How Primitive Sociology is Killing the Church of England
Brian Brown turns to basic sociology to argue against the current “dumbing down” or “de-Christianizing” of the Church of England’s liturgy.

Any society worth joining has elements of moral capital. From the high school chess club to sports team fan bases to fraternal organizations to communities and nations, moral and social cohesion are maintained through shared expectations of what it means to be a member and what it requires of you. To use an American analogy: nobody would consider you a real baseball fan if you didn’t come to games, wear your team’s colors, know its players and coaches and history, despise the rival team, and understand the unwritten rules players and fans observe during a game (the British used to call them “manners”).

In other words, nobody wants to be a member of a club that’s so inclusive that membership means nothing. This is especially true of religious organizations. Haidt and other social scientists have found that “costly religious rituals” that demand things of you, which they initially viewed with enlightened Western skepticism, are actually one of the crucial elements of building and sustaining moral capital.

Brown’s point is that under cover of making things more understandable so that more people will join the community of faith, there’s the huge risk that there will be nothing left to commune around!

More Than 1 Billion People Are Desperately Poor
Nearly half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. Of these, 1 billion live on less than $1 a day. Experts call these the desperately poor. They live in places like in Haiti, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Africa. They have no running water, no medical care, nor education. Most survive by eating at garbage dumps.

The Bible is not silent about God’s concern for the poor. He counts on us to help them, especially us whom He has redeemed.

The New Intolerance: Will We Regret Pushing Christians out of Public Life?
Christine Odone was invited to speak at a conference on traditional marriage in London, and twice the event was cancelled at the last minute because the venue managers at two prestigious locations said that it contravened their diversity policies. She started researching the matter and was shocked at the results:

Not not only Christians, but also Muslims and Jews, increasingly feel they are no longer free to express any belief, no matter how deeply felt, that runs counter to the prevailing fashions for superficial “tolerance” and “equality” (terms which no longer bear their dictionary meaning but are part of a political jargon in which only certain views, and certain groups, count as legitimate).

Only 50 years ago, liberals supported “alternative culture”; they manned the barricades in protest against the establishment position on war, race and feminism. Today, liberals abhor any alternative to their credo. No one should offer an opinion that runs against the grain on issues that liberals consider “set in stone”, such as sexuality or the sanctity of life.

Intolerance is no longer the prerogative of overt racists and other bigots – it is state-sanctioned. It is no longer the case that the authorities are impartial on matters of belief, and will intervene to protect the interests and heritage of the weak. When it comes to crushing the rights of those who dissent from the new orthodoxy, politicians and bureaucrats alike are in the forefront of the attacks, not the defence.

Odone warns America that what’s happened in Europe is crossing the Atlantic and calls on us to learn from…gays! She says that like gays, Christians and other minority religions should stop hiding bashfully and fearfully in the shadows and instead “step forward into the limelight, dismantling prejudices that they must be suspect, lonely, losers. Believers should present themselves as ordinary people, men and women who worry about the price of the weekly shop and the size of the monthly mortgage.

Let outsiders see the faithful as a vulnerable group persecuted by right-on and politically correct fanatics who don’t believe in free speech. Let them see believers pushed to the margins of society, in need of protection to survive. Banned, misrepresented, excluded – and all because of their religion? Even the most hardbitten secularist and the most intolerant liberal should be offended by the kind of censorship people of faith are facing today. If believers can awaken a sense of justice in those around them, they may have taken a first important step in reclaiming the west as an area where God is welcome.

I wish Odone was right, that a bit more boldness and ordinariness would do the trick. There’s one major flaw with her analogy and it’s John 3:19. If I may paraphrase: “Men love homosexuality rather than Christianity, because their deeds are evil.” Homosexuals have been successful because evil appeals to evil. We must not underestimate the enmity against God and good in the human heart (Rom. 8:7). The only solution is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in both common grace and saving grace.

The Distinct Positive Impact of a Good Dad
Jennifer Aniston said, ”Women are realizing it more and more knowing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child.”

But this Dad-demeaning view overlooks a growing body of research suggesting that men bring much more to the parenting enterprise than money.

Yale psychiatrist Kyle Pruett has argued that fathers often engage their children in ways that differ from the ways in which mothers engage their children. Now a new book, Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives has highlighted four ways in which today’s dads tend to make distinctive contributions to their children’s lives:

The Power of Play: From a Saturday morning spent roughhousing with a four-year-old son to a weekday afternoon spent coaching middle-school football, fathers typically spend more of their time engaged in vigorous play than do mothers, and play a uniquely physical role in teaching their sons and daughters how to handle their bodies and their emotions on and off the field.

Encouraging risk: In their approach to childrearing, fathers are more likely to encourage their children to take risks, embrace challenges, and be independent, whereas mothers are more likely to focus on their children’s safety and emotional well-being.

Protecting his own: Fathers play an important role in protecting their children from threats in the larger environment…Fathers, by dint of their size, strength, or aggressive public presence, appear to be more successful in keeping predators and bad peer influences away from their sons and daughters. Paternal absence has been cited by multiple scholars as the single greatest risk factor in teen pregnancy for girls.

Dad’s discipline: Although mothers typically discipline their children more often than do fathers, dads’ disciplinary style is distinctive. Fathers tend to be more willing than mothers to confront their children and enforce discipline, leaving their children with the impression that they in fact have more authority.

The contributions that fathers make to their children’s lives can be seen in three areas: reduced teenage delinquency, pregnancy, and depression.