Sunday, November 19, 2017

Roy Moore and the Liturgy of the Golden Calf

Molly Worthen is one of the few truly thought provoking writers now appearing in the NYTimes. Usually she writes about her students, her teaching, and her fellow-academics. She teaches history at the University of North Carolina.

Worthn departs from her usual territory today (November 19): "How to Escape from Roy Moore's Evangelicalism," to offer an intelligent and theological analysis of why his supporters stick with him and have lept to his defense. Here is one of the explanations:
"To Ms. Schiess, this is one more sign that a new ritual has superseded Sunday worship and weeknight Bible studies: a profane devotional practice, with immense power to shape evangelicals’ beliefs. This “liturgy” is the nightly consumption of conservative cable news. Liberals love to complain about conservatives’ steady diet of misinformation through partisan media, but Ms. Schiess’s complaint is more profound: Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson aren’t just purveyors of distorted news, but high priests of a false religion."
Worthen looks at various alternative to false religion, including Ron Dreher's, "The Benedict Option," belief in the Real Presence (!), and growth in spiritual communities among millenials (otherwise known as "nones").

As I finished reading her, I wondered: Is it only Evangelicals who suffer from the Golden Calf syndrome? Underlying false religion is the propensity for all of us to hang out with, listen to and watch people who agree with us. Though Hannity and Carlson are tagged as the high priests of this particular false religion, is it possible that Rachel Maddow and Jake Tapper are the equivalent sacerdotals for liberals?

Anyway Worthen is worth a read.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Majority-Black Cities

Here is an intriguing report from Brookings: "Black incomes outpace the national average in 124 majority-black cities." The survey looks at cities, mostly small, and independent suburbs in which African-Americans are the majority of the population. It sounds like good news--and it is. 
A national map of majority-black cities, ranked by median household incomes of black families, shows that 124 communities outpace the national median household income for all races ($53,889), according to data from the 2015 American Community Survey. Black families are especially thriving in various city/suburbs in the state of Maryland, which hosts more than half of the top 124 majority-black cities.
BUT...the kicker is in the subhead: "So where's the investment?"

The author of the report Andre Perry points out that these 124 cities, as prospering, stable place, deserve more attention and  investment by government, investors, and developers. The fact that half are in Maryland is intriguing though the author offers no explanation: proximity to Washington? proximity to the Old South?  Some of the 124 cities have historically black colleges and universities within their boundaries which he believes contributes to this "prosperity" through stability and education.

He admits that median household income is an imperfect measure of economic well-being. It doesn't include economic assets--a measure that has shown that black families fall far behind whites because of segregation and discrimination. But his major point is valid, places with stable, middle-class families in places that have educational resources deserve more attention from the economic powers that be as well as from African-American families planning to relocate.