“Prosperity Gospel” Hasn’t Earned Congressional Blessing

31 03 2008

Churches that preach wealth as an essential part of Christian faith are under political review . . .

‘Prosperity Gospel’ Churches’ Spending Reports Due

Listen Now [5 min 32 sec]

Morning Edition, March 31, 2008 · Monday is the deadline for some popular mega-churches to report to Congress on how they spend their money. These churches all preach wealth as an essential part of faith.

Steve Inskeep speaks with religion professor Anthea Butler about “prosperity gospel.”

US News & World Report writes about “prosperity gospel” here.

Time Magazine does the same here:

Some see Grassley’s acts as a religious vendetta, launched by a white-bread Evangelical who doesn’t get the group’s view of rich pastors as a sign of divine grace. Grassley has hinted that his purpose may be to revamp tax laws to keep up with rapacious preachers.

Remarks Charles Haynes, senior scholar with the First Amendment Center: “I’m worried that [the six] might be used to push for stringent transparency regulations that would affect all religious groups. They are extreme, and extreme cases can lead to bad law.”

Grassley rejects the criticism. “We’re not looking at doctrine. I don’t know much about the words Prosperity gospel,” he says. But he acknowledges that religious-freedom concerns may make an investigation a “little more difficult to defend.”

Political Art? Identity Art? (Is There Home Education Art?)

30 03 2008

Campaigning politicians talk solutions; artists talk problems. Politics deals in goals and initiatives; art, or at least interesting art, in a language of doubt and nuance.This has always been true when the subject is race. And when it is, art is often ahead of the political news curve, and heading in a contrary direction.

. . . a young artist named Rashid Johnson created a fictional secret society of African-American intellectuals, a cross between Mensa and the Masons. . . Here was art beyond old hot-button statements, steering clear of easy condemnations and endorsements.

But are artists like Mr. Johnson making “black” art? Political art? Identity art?
There are no answers, or at least no unambiguous ones.

Reading this I was thinking, aha! — maybe home education doesn’t need any more political advocacy. We sure need some of that “hot-button statement” avoidance! Steer us way clear of “easy condemnations and endorsements”!

Forget about which white males have the clout to push homeschool legislative initiatives from the pulpit yet again. Never mind whose religious tradition has ruled the roost to date, in homeschooling’s efforts to unite in defense of our freedoms. Maybe what we really need now to suit the troubles of our times, isn’t anybody’s brand of politics OR religion, at all. And forget the certified teachers and their union’s protectionist political pronouncements, too.

How about some real-live, bang-up, cutting edge, street theatre, indie to the max, audacious home education ART? Laura, wasn’t somebody working on a film version of home education art a few years back, or is that just wishful thinking?

The Audacity of Government

30 03 2008

. . .is the chosen theme of Ira Glass for “This American Life” today, a riff on Obama’s Audacity of Hope, and what a show. You won’t believe it or want to, even as you know every word is true.

The first vignette should especially intrigue (amuse? appall?) Dana, Dawn and other Canuck-connected listeners.

The Audacity of Government

We’ve noticed a trend in a number of actions taken lately by the United States government.

Tiny things, things you probably haven’t heard of, but with big implications. Harassing widows. Defying a century-old and utterly benign treaty—with Canada!

So we’ve decided to spend an hour admitting and talking about the fact that everyone knows is true: America’s become a jerk.

“This is really tyranny . . .”

Valerie Moon, Rob Reich, NPR and THE Conversation

29 03 2008

Did y’all realize Diane Rehm had a homeschool show this week? My brain’s problem-solving process has been 100% focused on specific math disability (dyscalculia) research and finding public education policy accommodations for same, so I missed the whole thing.

But I’ve been there before, many times, even in conversation with Diane Rehm and Rob Reich specifically. I know the script by heart.

And maybe what I was dealing with instead, was all part of the same universal word problem anyway — take this from the dyscalculia research pages for instance:
“It is natural to believe that everyone thinks like you do.”
No kidding . . .

Valerie gives a blow-by-blow account (literally) of the program as it aired, and then she quite astutely and correctly imo, identifies the conversation as THE Conversation For All Things —

Whether it was then or now, about homeschool philosophy or preschool testing or college algebra mandates, in NHEN legislative forum debate or Scott Somerville’s blog or on National Public Radio, in a California court called “child protection”or the Florida statehouse called “academic freedom”, whether it’s conviction-driven public policy to address some very “specific disability” in individuals, or generalized social welfare — it’s still the same education conversation:

. . .it seems as if some of the controversy about homeschooling (if not all of it) comes down to the ancient commotion over what people think, and who gets to tell the kiddies about ‘it’ so that the kiddies will grow up to be ‘right-thinking’ adults. All the parts seem to be about this particular control. Anything else seems (to me) to be a smokescreen, not specifically on this NPR program, but in the overall discussion about homeschooling.

. . .We all have our pet peeves, and how we feel about reliance on governmental oversight skews opinion about making laws and regulations as much as being an ‘advocate’ for a particular undertaking, such as homeschooling.

And this is The Conversation not just for education. Think of everything to do with privacy and family life, as well as society and public policy. . . Read the rest of this entry »

Google Goes Dark to Save the World

29 03 2008

Cool graphic, really startled me just now.

Read more here.

Snook is keenly supportive of the initiative’s aspirations but this blog will not go dark tonight in PC sympathy. Nance and I live in Florida where we’re all too familiar with weather-induced blackout and the object is to avoid it, not volunteer for it!

Favorite Daughter Comes Out of the Closet

27 03 2008

. . .the math disability closet, that is, with her new blog diary posted direct from her college honors lounge today.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, words without end, amen.

For years, I’ve been telling people that I was – hmm, I believe the
phrase I used when I was middle-school-aged was “math retarded.”

My mom told me many times over the years, sometimes rather sharply, not to say that. She didn’t want other people to think of me that way, and she didn’t want me to think of myself that way. . .Turns out my original assessment of “math retarded” is probably closer to the truth. . .

Read her whole post when you can, because it lays out what she’s been through in her own words, from inside who she was born to be.

Then she wrote and posted a poem that made her mother cry:

“On Leaving a Book of Poems in the Math Building”

There is nothing quite so terrible
as losing a notebook of poems
in the math building.

I am dizzy, frantic, wondering
what horrors those numbers people
will enact on my scrawled characters.

They might translate them to binary,
or try to convert all of my metaphors to fractions
to see if they are truly equivalent.

They might grade them, disfigure their structure,
mark them in bright judgmental red,
or add the lines together and average out the vowels.

Read the rest of this entry »

Separate Church and State, AND Integrate Them?

27 03 2008

Did you realize the current Dalai Lama of Tibet is both spiritual leader and political leader in one legitimized package? I heard a riveting radio interview as I drove Favorite Daughter to campus (moon and stars were still clearly visible in a black sky — Dad’s out of town, and Mom isn’t used to getting up and out into traffic this freakin’ early!)

I’m pretty sure I heard the journalist-author of “The Open Road” describe him as the only figurehead in the world who integrates spiritual leadership with his political authority (although the Vatican wasn’t mentioned, or ayatollah types, hmmm. . .)
Then he and Terry Gross said even the Dalai Lama is moving to separate the two roles, stop doing the politics.

(After which, no one in the world will be doing both at the same time, really? If that’s true, I guess theocracy is deader than communism?)

Anyway, then the interview went on into ecumenical questions about “one true faith” beliefs fighting to win the whole world, versus blending cultural truths and uniting in the larger spirit of goodness and the author gave a truly BEAUTIFUL account of his own multi-cultural, multi-faith-influenced personal “convictions” about how to live.

It spoke to me, awakened something besides my caffeine-deprived driver instincts, much as Barack Obama has been inspiring me lately, about uniting in a higher purpose than to fight to the death against other folks supposedly all defending the same virtues we do, but in that very fight, destroying what we all believe we’re fighting for, instead.

Thought some of y’all might want to check it out, maybe talk about it.

So I Poked Around, About Family Demographics . . .

25 03 2008

. . .and I found a new university research report headed, “Conservative Protestants’ Religious Beliefs Contribute to Their Low Wealth, Duke Study Shows”.

Don’t ask me what I think it means yet, I haven’t even read the study, just the official news release. The first question that popped into my head wasn’t one I’m eager to explore: does this sociology correlate to the data Dana just cited, and provide evidence that poor and poorly educated moms with many children not only are significantly more prone to child abuse, but also more prone to homeschooling — and if so, can credible correlation of religion with homeschooling and religious homeschooling with child abuse be much further ahead than the next demographic corner? [shudder]

On the upside, it sure opens up “the” meaning of family values . . .

Because We Need More Than Fear

25 03 2008

Dana today, reasoning for the separation of families and regulation:

We need reasonable safeguards, but the state cannot cease to respect the rights of the citizenry simply for fear of what could happen.

The greatest predictors of child abuse [are] low maternal education, acceptance of Medicaid, a mother who left the home by the age of 14, the presence of other young children in the home and maternal depression. We do not, however, increase oversight over anyone fitting this profile, despite the proven correlation to abuse.

Because we need more than a statistical correlation and more than a fear. . .

From a Comment I Left at Sandra Dodd’s Today

23 03 2008

“. . .Always-unschooled Favorite Daughter turned 18 this week and her favorite family gifts were (as usual) books. Shakespeare-themed books this birthday, because she’s recently set her sights on life as a poet and English professor — her favorite so far is the scholarly yet VERY un-schooly, “Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s Most Outrageous Sexual Puns” by Pauline Kiernan.

It tickles me to imagine what schoolbook snobs would think if they loved Shakespeare as she does, for what he really wrote rather than what school taught them to believe he wrote . . .”

Let’s Play “Lose Ben Stein’s Movie”

23 03 2008

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


Whether or not you ever watched his game show, if you’re a Thinking Parent you probably know that the anti-science, anti-human sophistry of Ben Stein is now a movie called “Expelled”, on its tightly controlled private propaganda tour prior to its actual “public” opening in the US April 18. My Sunshine State’s whole legislature was invited but not reporters.

Then in Minnesota, home of Pharyngula-famed PZ Myers, his even more famous colleague from across the pond Richard Dawkins wasn’t expected, hence slipped into the screening unnoticed — but PZ himself was blacklisted, police on high alert to enforce his, ahem, “expulsion” from this supposedly scientific, open-inquiry teaching of the controversy.

Which they literally did, on threat of his arrest — wonder if such ideological use of police power will be decried or defended, by those who characterize as “free speech” what the anti-abortion party-crashers did at the Dr. Seuss movie premiere? Did they have the absolute right not only to attend but to disrupt through ideological protest, to impose their message by exploiting the movie’s makers and invited guests and of course all their children? If so, surely PZ Myers shares that right, at least to get in the door if not take over?

Dawkins and Myers discuss the incident over here, with Dawkins offering his (low) opinion of the movie. Meanwhile, Myers’ daughter, Skatje, reviews Expelled here.

Cock of the snook to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Russell Blackford PhD LLB is a fellow of the IEET, an attorney, science fiction author and critic, philosopher, and public intellectual. Russell lives in Melbourne, Australia where he teaches in the School of Philosophy and Bioethics at Monash University.

He goes on about how Thinking Parents might respond and why:

Enjoy all this, folks, but take it seriously at the same time. It’s clear enough that there are people in the US (and elsewhere) who will never give up their bitter rearguard resistance to the main findings of modern biological science. These folks are intensely motivated, well-resourced, and supported by a huge proportion of the American public.

Those of who us who are committed to the cause of reason can have a laugh about this, but we mustn’t just sit on the sidelines laughing. Read the rest of this entry »

Define THE Christian Worldview for Homeschoolers?

22 03 2008

Christian (and science-minded) mom Dawn at Day by Day Discoveries sounds off about homeschoolers who claim creationism is a universal tenet of the Christian worldview.

That other sound you hear is me, cheering. . .

UPDATE: “Mind Your Head About Home Education and Religion”