Wednesday, December 31, 2008
On the same note, The Franklin News-Post considered Tom's victory over Rep. Goode the top story of 2008. For those out of district, this newspaper covers Goode's hometurf, Rocky Mount and Franklin County. Tom ended an era of Goode family politics, as Goode and his father each spent over 30 years apiece in local public office. According to the News-Post, the outcome "is considered one of the biggest upsets in Virginia politics in recent history."
Okay, sorry. So what are you doing tonight? And, if you have one, what are your New Year's resolutions?
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I was going to write a big, brilliant post on this subject, but, alas, my fame-seeking personality supplicated to laziness and sloth. Forgive me if this is scattered or underdeveloped; take it out on me in the comment section.
Evolutionary Biology and Evolutionary Psychology seek to understand how current human processes, among others, developed from way, way before pre-historic times. Early-hominid environmental conditions influenced genetic mutations whose (long-) lasting affects still influence our functioning today. As an outgrowth of these studies, the examination of the Evolution of Religion recently emerged: Is there an evolutionary benefit, among early humans, that could explain biologically and psychologically why religion perpetuated itself? Oversimplified, how and why did religion emerge?
Natalie Angier interviewed Evolutionary Biologist David Sloan Wilson in a NYT article last week. To cut to the chase, Sloan argues that religion evolved because:
it helped make groups of humans comparatively more cohesive, more cooperative and more fraternal, and thus able to present a formidable front against bands of less organized or unified adversaries. While I haven't read his new book, Darwin's Cathedral – now on my reading list - I find this explanation unsatisfactory. Group cohesion is a sociological factor, not a biological one. Religion might make groups more cohesive, but that affect would be secondary.
Enter a study done at the Missouri University. According to this study, there is a "spirituality spot" found in the brain, more specifically the right parietal lobe. This part of the brain handles self-definition (selflessness, self-criticism, self-awareness, self-focus, etc.). As such, people who are more spiritual have less active right-parietal lobes.
The finding suggests that one core tenant of spiritual experience is selflessness, said Johnstone, adding that he hopes the study "will help people think about spirituality in more specific ways."So, maybe religion evolved because the propagation of a selfless gene - and mental, physical health genes? - one that develops the right parietal lobe. People with this gene mated creating a dominant gene. This selflessness would then manifest socially through deeper, more meaningful relationships, through stronger group cohesion. I'm not an expert, but that seems to fit better.
Spiritual outlooks have long been associated with better mental and physical health. These benefits, Johnstone speculated, may stem from being focused less on one's self and more on others - a natural consequence of turning down the volume on the Me-Definer.
How does the studies on the Evolution of Religion dialogue with theology? While I think the studies of the Evolution of Religion are important and worthy, I do not think theology should take an accomodationist approach to the subject. It is necessary to have theology dialogue with these findings, especially as most theologians believe the theory of evolution. I am skeptical, however, that theologians are taking the right approach. For example, asking "Where does God fit in?" cedes too much epistemological ground; theology should not be solely reactive to scientific inquiry.
Reading books on the subject I found that Evolutionary Biologists and Psychologists are self-professed atheists, even Wilson. Remember, the questions you ask influence the answers you seek, and the answers you seek influence the questions you ask. With this in mind, as I read books on the subject, I usually found myself thinking the authors asked the wrong questions, leading to potentially – and subconsciously! – preconceived findings. And, if you don't question the assumptions, you are more likely to grant the conclusions. I don't mean to throw the baby out with the bathwater, again, this subject is worthy. There, however, should be a deeper discussion over epistemology, assumptions, and presuppositions when intertwining these studies with theology. This discussion needs to happen, but it must be fruitful not accomodationist.
My $0.02. Ca-ching!
His pick, Roland Burris, seems like an honorable man, a former Illinois Attorney General and, apparently, the Dean of African-American politicians within the state. I haven't heard or read a bad word about the guy, except regarding the super-awkward press conference today. From what I gather, Burris is almost unreproachable, a sign of the devious political calculation on Blagojevich's part.
The Senate Dems are not amused. The are threatening not to seat Burris in the Democatic caucus. They constitutionally might not be able to do anything about the appointment, but they don't have to accept Burris into their ranks. Not seating Burris, however, could also be problematic:
But Burris could be a tough appointment to reject. Any appointment other than Blagojevich himself, or someone directly and obviously connected with his troubles would be, really. ... Yes, Democrats pledged as a block to do exactly that -- and by blunt force they could try it, though there's precedent to the contrary -- but will they do it? Even if the person appointed has no apparent connection to Blagojevich's entanglements, and no record of questionable activities of their own?I would hate to live in Illinois right now.
And more importantly, even if it means pitting a body of 98 mostly white people against one African-American who at least so far appears to have done nothing wrong?
Update: Obama's statement agreeing with Senate Democrats.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.
The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.
"Taking a pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking."
While these results shouldn't be surprising to us, we should remember that methodologically speaking, teenage self-reporting on the subject isn't that reliable. That issue aside, one of these days we will grow up when it comes to matters of sex and sexuality. Hopefully, we now can start to take sex education more seriously, but why do I still doubt?
I was struck by the fact that the Bible goes green before the Detroit automakers do.
Thanks to Politico for noticing, and thanks to the exhaustive work of our volunteers, fellow staff, and Tom who made it possible.
I just went back and read the Goode interview. Thanks for pointing it out- I'd missed it somehow. Other than the things you pointed out, the other thing that was very interesting to me was the "laundry list" of things he'd do different in the campaign if he could go back. I'm sure I know what some of them are. I'd love to hear what Virgil thinks they are, though. I would hope that his #1 would be to tone down the negativity and false ad hominem attacks. It made the incumbent, who was up 34 points, look desperate and frantic.Well said. I guess I somehow overlooked that part, because I was stunned by some of Goode's comments.
The biggest factor in this upcoming gubernatorial contest: Terry McAuliffe's fundraising prowess. He believes he can raise $80 million. Freakin' amazing. Unfortunately, money does matter in politics, but the Democratic base is skeptical of McAuliffe; can that money translate into activist enthusiasm?
Sen. Jim Webb is planning on introducing legislation to help create prison reform:
... Webb describes a U.S. prison system that is deeply flawed in how it targets, punishes and releases those identified as criminals.
With 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States has imprisoned a higher percentage of its population than any other nation, according to the Pew Center on the States and other groups. Although the United States has only 5 percent of the world's population, it has 25 percent of its prison population, Webb says.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Will congressional Republicans again sacrifice their political interest to satisfy their Southern-baked ideological imperatives?
Goode said he thinks his lack of support for immigration measures prompted people nationwide who favored the measures to contribute to Perriello’s campaign.I am glad he could finally admit that, a refreshing difference from his previous scary-New-York-liberal-lawyer-money-out-to-steal-an-election stance.
Goode also said that being govenor is the "best job you could have" in Virginia. He said he is not interested in the position, but I don't like to hear Goode throwing out such ideas. I pray that this isn't a trail balloon. I don't think so, but still.
... Virginia is not better for [one term governors]. Governors are forced to plot short-range, tactical advances in pursuit of what they think should be the state's long-range, strategic goals. The chance that a succeeding governor will build on the work of the last can be hindered by partisanship and each executive's desire to leave his own imprint on the office.When I last met gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran in Martinsville a couple weeks ago, he seemed to believe that such a potential amendment could garner enough legislative support to pass for a public vote within the next several years. Virginians, he thought, would vote for this constitutional change. Moran noted that if such an amendment were to pass, it would not benefit the then-sitting Governor.
Sounds good to me. And, I'm okay with the idea of a Gov. Moran too.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
65% of "religiously affiliated" Americans believe people of faiths other than their own can also obtain eternal life (down 5% from 2007, 11% from 2002). Salvifically speaking, this number shows that Americans are more pluralistic and less triumphalistic; there are multiple paths up the mountain. I love that 42% of respondents think that athiests can make it. Also surveyed, the actions/behaviors leading to eternal life: 30% of those polled believe that faith alone will earn eternal life, and an equal amount (29%) believe that actions alone will earn eternal life; 10% believe that both faith and actions are required. Read the poll analysis for more thorough ... uh ... analysis-y stuff.
Charles Blow, op-ed columnist for the NYT, today tried to explain these results. Professor Alan Stegal, Barnard College, said in the article that our multicultural society (my take: exposure to a diversity of people of different faiths) makes it "hard for us to imagine God letting [those of other faiths] go to hell." I mostly agree with that, but whatever. The last paragraph of the op-ed is both insightful and hopeful:
Now, there remains the possibility that some of those polled may not have understood the implications of their answers. As John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said, “The capacity of ignorance to influence survey outcomes should never be underestimated.” But I don’t think that they are ignorant about this most basic tenet of their faith. I think that they are choosing to ignore it ... for goodness sake.
Friday, December 26, 2008
To the religious haters out there, please note:
... this measure of public perceptions about religion has been quite volatile over the forty-plus years of its existence, with shifts in perception often corresponding to major political events.Economy anyone?
Chip Saltsman, former campaign manager of presidential aspirant Gov. Mike Huckabee, is seeking the headship of the RNC. Saltsman sent out a racist Christmas CD to RNC committee members, I assume to garner their support. On the playlist is "The Star Spanglish Banner" and the Limbaugh-approved song, "Barack the Magic Negro."
Ta-Nehisi Coates' take:
Get it? Negroes!! Spanglish!! No?? Clearly your [sic] too PC. Seriously, where do people get this idea that the GOP is racist? It really is one of the great mysteries of our time. Oh well. Saltsman's got my vote. Even if he doesn't [sic] believes I shouldn't have one. He's still got it.Adds Josh Marshall:
... it really does seem like the RNC chairmanship race is down to a straight-up match between the black candidates and the racist candidates.Baby Jesus wept.
... I still think conservatives love America for the same tribalistic reasons people love whatever groups they belong to. These are the people who are sure Christianity is the only right religion, that America is the best country, that the Republicans have the only good candidates, that gays have cooties.A couple of days ago, I argued that absolute certainty increases the likelihood of violence, but it is the argument that certainty correlates with happiness that intrigues me here. Without a study or a happiness-o-meter, this smells of "grass is greener on the other side" speculation. While Stein may be right, I think that there can be profound fulfillment by living into the mysteries of life, in recognizing the complexities and ambiguities of both Truth and the world around us. That fulfillment might not necessarily manifest itself as immediate emotional happiness but, possibly, as a deeper sense of holism.
I wish I felt such certainty. Sure, it makes life less interesting and nuanced, and absolute conviction can lead to dangerous extremism, but I suspect it makes people happier. I'll never experience the joy of Hannity-level patriotism. I'm the type who always wonders if some other idea or place or system is better and I'm missing out. ...
On a different note, according to Perriello, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most brilliant shows ever written."
My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of Delilah Magnum, 58, who passed away this past weekend. Although I did not have the honor of working closely with Ms. Magnum, I do know that she worked tirelessly for both Tom and Obama in the Danville area. Her dedicated activism and humanitarian selflessness will surely be missed.
Jindal, 2012? Earlier in the month, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that he would not seek the presidency because he was happy with his current post. Jindal is now reserving judgment about a presidential bid, depending on how popular Obama will be at the time.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I can tell you first hand that this ad had a negative affect on his campaign ... well, couple that with Tom's positive ads.
Update: As Darren Staley reminds me, our sisters and brothers to the South are also represented in this contest: soon to be ex-Sen. Dole's "Godless" ad against now Senator-Elect Kay Hagan.
On a more serious note, TCU's announcement of my uncle's new employment galvanized and energized the #11 Horned Frogs to hand #9 Boise State its first loss of the season in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Hopefully, this should comfort Chad. The Vatican's stance on Galileo is changing. Seems that 400 years - and an undeniable body of evidence - have softened the hearts of the Catholic Church. They are even considering granting Galileo "Patron" status for the dialogue between faith and reason.
Chad, give it time. You might not be in the eschatological in-group right now, but you will be a cool kid again someday.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Robertson on Bush:
Well you know, history may accord him a higher grade than his contemporaries and I think he's hoping for that, and we are.He claims that Katrina, rebuilding Iraq, and the handling of the economy were terribly mishandled, yet he only gives Bush a C-?!? Sounds like grade inflation to me.
But I believe I would look at about a C-minus right now if I were grading him.
But when he talks about Obama, Robertson glows:
I am remarkably pleased with Obama. I had grave misgivings about him. But so help me, he's come in forcefully, intelligently. He's picked a middle of the road cabinet. And so far, if he continues down this course, he has the makings of a great president.Fair to say Obama earns an A+. I just hope that Robertson's warm embrace of Obama isn't a kiss of death.
So, I'm very pleased so far.
Terry McAuliffe is in. I already knew this, because one of my friends is going to work for him in January. But now the Democratic Gubenatorial field is set with McAuliffe, State Sen. Creigh Deeds, and former State Delegate Brian Moran. Now that the 2008 election cycle is over, people are focusing on this race and starting to choose sides. Take for example the discussions over at BlueCommonwealth: a diarist against McAuliffe; a diarist for Moran; an ex-Deeds supporter turns Lean Moran.
Payne might be on to something here, even though his presentation is both alarmist and anecdotal (show me some stats, please). I, however, don't want to belabor that point. I think that his point about ambivalence is spot on (i.e., the biblical justification for and against slavery), but his point about rigid truth claims provides a soapbox that I cannot pass up.
Deep breath. Begin rant.
Every religion (and non-religion) has truth claims, without which religion (and non-religion) could not provide a coherent existential worldview (a necessity for individual and communal identity formation and a necessity to function, behave, and relate within the world). Whether Christianity, Islam, athiesm, or secular humanism - to name just a few - these worldviews have an organized epistemological framework in which to interpret reality. Truth claims are foundational in this framework; truth claims are necessary and good.
The problem comes when these truth claims are absolutized and held with non-negotiable certainty. Truth then divides the world into right and wrong, and logically, good and evil; those who disagree with the truth claim are wrong, and depending their tenacity, evil. Rigid truth claims transcend the realm of human discussion and argumentation, a retreating and entrenchment from dialogue. This creates a high potential to marginalize dissenters and outsiders. The trampling of human diginity (my definition of violence), on one level or another, is inevitable. Said again, rigid truth claims then increase the likelihood that a religion (or non-religion) will become violent.
Assume for the sake of argument that you could hold Truth in your hand. You have to be very careful, it is fragile. The harder and harder you try to grasp at truth, the more broken and incomprehensible it becomes. As such, you lose Truth when you clinch your fist at an unbeliever. (h/t Tripp Fuller)
So not only does Christianity increase the likelihood of violence when it adheres to rigid truth claims, but it possibly loses membership to the growing "Spiritual but not religious" phenomenon. Sounds lose-lose to me.
Monday, December 22, 2008
If Warren is the future of the American evangelical movement, then many more evangelicals might end up Democrats, since it is Democrats who care about poor people, illiteracy, and AIDS victims. And if any significant proportion of evangelicals can be turned into consistent Democrats, the party would more regularly win elections in some parts of the country and even nationally.Pretty sure winning over a significant portion of evangelicals is part of the plan, but I am not sure if Warren will/should be that standard-bearer. By "not sure," I mean, "I hope not."
All of this to answer why a (male!?) Martian would care about the geographical loci of religions.
Aside: Whether it be in jurisprudence or religious explication, again and again, the notion of choice seems to be the central presupposition.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Barack Obama chose Joe Biden, and John McCain turned to Sarah Palin, but in the end, the most sought-after running mate in the 2008 campaign never appeared on a single ballot.I was in Divinity School during the 2004 election, naturally a hyper-religious environment. Through that lens, I remember 2004 to be an uncommonly religious election: Terrorism and Islamic Extremism, Abortion and Gay Marriage.
God, it seems, couldn’t be entirely wooed by either party.The unprecedented and extraordinary prominence of religion in the 2008 election was easily the year’s top religion story. Both parties battled hard for religious voters ...
In terms of religious stories, however, 2008 dwarfed 2004. Jeremiah Wright. John Hagee. Rod Pasley. The Saddleback Forum. The Compassion Forum during the Democratic Primary. Proposition 8. Barack Hussein Obama and his "secret Muslim worldview." Madrasas. Mike Huckabee's religious education. Mitt Romney and Mormonism. Sarah Palin and conservative evangelical elation, no exceptions on abortion whatsoever, witch-doctor blessings, creationism, God blessing Alaskan oil pipelines, etc. We could cite examples ad nauseam.
Even in our local congressional race, religion was prominent. Congressman-Elect Tom Perriello never shied from his religion: "Called by his faith." Sierra Leone, Darfur, genocides and civil wars. Volunteer tithing initiatives and Habitat for Humanity. Listening tour with pastors. Pastors for Perriello. "United Sunni caliphate."
Tangentially, are we seeing a trend here, the religification of national elections? Two times does not a pattern make, but it will be fun to watch.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I am of two minds on this.
Emphatically speaking, I find Warren noxious and odious on many theological fronts. At the very least, his belief that homosexuality is analogous to pedophila, incest, and polygamy is shameful. He sadly misconstrues the life and ministry of Jesus, a ministry that was inclusive, inviting, loving, and embracing. To pick Warren to give the invocation provides unfortunate symbolic consequences, especially after the disappointing loss on Proposition 8. The prayer-giver is front and center to the entire nation and world, and, on this stage, to have a person who preaches exclusion and division is problematic. On this day, Warren's dehumanizing beliefs have a platform and a position of honor. The fact that disagreement over gay-rights is still vitriolic highlights that the pick was mishandled in and of itself. I empathize with the anger.
On the other hand, let's focus on the notion of inclusivity. In my mind, inclusion is a constitutional characteristic of progressivism, and inclusion was an important principle within the Obama campaign. Notably, Obama field organizers had a mantra: "Respect. Empower. Include." To cross-mix the ideas here, inclusion does not preclude respectful disagreement. That is self-evident to me. I thought of this as I watched Obama's press conference today. Obama:
... It is important for Americans to come together even if we have disagreements on social issues. ... We are not going to agree on every issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. ... Part of the magic of this country is we are diverse, noisy, and opinionated. ... [my transcription]Sure, it is trasparent that Obama extended an olive branch to moderate and conservative evangelicals, perhaps even as a cheap policitical ploy. In terms of gay rights, America is bitterly divided. Remember, however, Obama is the President of the entire country, not just 52-53% of the electorate. Remember also, progress happens in dialogue. Obama in effect stated, "Sure, I ardently disagree with you, but, as a fellow American, I respect and value you and your opinion. Welcome." Respect. Empower. Include.
Interestingly, we applaud Obama for creating a bipartisan cabinet, one that both values the discussion of ideas and abhors group-think. We think it great that cabinet Democrats and cabinet Republicans can put solutions over partisanship. We applaud Obama for his willingness to dialogue with countries and regimes that hold anti-American sentiments. Dialogue is disarming, and high-level diplomacy can depress counter-productive and dangerous behavior. Yet, dialogue and inclusivity die when they cross certain Democratic ideals?
Which is more important to us: Being the inclusive, big tent party? Or being issue driven? The Rick Warren pick underscores the tension between the two. I would argue that inclusivity should, in many cases, trump issues, but there is a threshold in which, if crossed, a principled stand is necessary and non-negotiable. As my friend, Doug Williams mused, "How would we feel if David Duke were picked?" To his point, universal rebuke would naturally ensue. But, is this one of those threshold-crossing events? Yes. No. Perhaps. Throughout the course of the day, I have come down on either side of the question.
I guess, I am both annoyed and comfortable with the pick - annoyed because of the newfound prominence of dehumanizing beliefs on a historic day; comfortable because of the underlying notion of inclusivity.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
On that note, today the recount is over. Tom Perriello has been officially elected to the House of Representatives. Cvllelaw states that Goode gained 18 votes during the recount, leaving a 727 vote margin. Money quote from his campaign's press release:
"I'm gratified that after an exhaustive democratic process, we now can say with certainty that this election is over, and the fifth district has asked me to fight for jobs and economic relief in Washington. I am humbled that the voters have entrusted me with this sacred duty, and I am eager to represent the entire district as we work together to put our communities back on the path to economic revival."Waldo Jaquith's take and his money quote:
The Fifth District is Democratic. The majority of Virginia’s congressional delegation is now Democratic. Goode has lost. Hell has frozen over. Life is good.I'm perfectly okay with both Goode losing and Hell ceasing to function, although I am more excited that Tom won.
Congratulations Congressman-Elect Perriello! Tonight we celebrate ... literally. There might be a fisty dance.
Update: Jim White talks with Tom shortly after the announcement.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This graph has caused some interesting speculation, or lack thereof, around the intertubes in the last couple of days (via Secular Right). On Andrew Sullivan's blog, Patrick Appel isn't quite sure what conclusions to draw, but, in a later update post, he notes that his most common response to the graph is:
The more willing you are to "believe" in anything, the more likely you are to "believe" in something else.Over at Street Prophets, pastordan is completely unsatisfied with this understanding and posits his own explanations:
Whatever the case, and whatever else you want to say about the subject, two things are definitely true:
- Using frequency of prayer as anything more than one data point in assessing religious practice is completely boneheaded; and
- This is absolutely wrong:
There is also the problem of the very first lesson every statician is taught - correlation is not causation. Nor are they necessarily related just because there is a high correlation. Hey, I’d guess that the number of people who voted who also have teeth is pretty high. Are we to assume that the ability to eat is predictive of the act of voting? Only if we are incredibly stupid.
Au contraire, mon frere. People who can't eat typically have more important things to worry about than voting. For instance, staying alive. Q.E.D.
We know that you are on your legacy tour right now, interviewing with the national television syndicates (ABC's Nightline in this case) to repair your damaged image. We know that you and your party were (and still are) beholden to the Religious Right and social conservativism. Now that your administration is over, we know that you can speak more freely, unaffected by electoral consequences.
But, did you have to lead us into eight years of culture wars, founded on literal interpretations of the Bible? If you don't interpret the Bible literally, why did you govern so?
On another note, with abysmally low approval ratings, I am sure that you just upset probably the only group that still holds you in esteem.
Update: I love this part of Paul Raushenbush's response (Beliefnet.com):
It is worth noting that his beliefs on biblical literalism, religious pluralism, and evolution are just coming out now. Contrary to popular belief, George Bush is no dummy. During the last eight years Rove and Bush have cynically allowed fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals to project their world view onto the president [sic]. In his last month in office, he may be seeing that fundamentalism, while useful to him in office, is not something he wants to carry with him into civilian life, or believes should be promoted within American society.
... This interview reveals that someone can have an authentic religious experience without the burdens of Biblical literalism, anti-science suspicions and Christian triumphalism.
It doesn't hurt that this title contains a (witty? cheesy?) play on words, where politics and religion interplay. But, now that I had to point that out, it loses coolness points.
My name is Drew Lumpkin and I am a theological and political junkie. I graduated with my Masters of Divinity degree in 2006. Among other subjects, my educational focus centered on the examination of the Separation of Church and State, Christian Ethics and Public Policy, and the relationship between religion and violence. Immediately following my graduation, I entered the realm of politics and managed a congressional campaign in NC-5 (Roger Sharpe). Just this past year, I worked as a Regional Director for Tom Perriello, our new Congressman in VA-5, in his electoral upset of Rep. Virgil Goode!
I am a Progressive Democrat, and Dem Bones will present this political ideology. Because of my brief history in congressional campaigns, I admit a small bias towards the politics within Southside Virginia and Northwest North Carolina. I was born and raised in the Christian tradition and attended the progressive Wake Forest Divinity School; although my writings are influenced by my background and experiences, I am a strong advocate for religious openness and dialogue.
This weblog is devoted to exploring religion, politics, and their interaction - with, I am sure, many diversions and sidetracks along the way. I hope that you enjoy our journey together in this endeavor.