Archive - August, 2009

Obama & Bush Approval – 7 Months In

Who would have thought? (And this is before the 9-11 bump that Bush got.)

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From: Real Clear Politics

Update on Unemployed Alumnus Who Sued Her College

I previously wrote on the story of Trina Thompson, 27, who, three months after graduating, sued Monroe College over her inability to land employment. Apparently, agencies big and small have been heaping scorn on Thompson. But Mark Gimein, an author for Slate magazine, has now published an articulate defense of Thompson, lambasting the methods and marketing of Monroe College. His article has also been picked up by New York magazine. Gimein writes:

The story of Thompson’s suit isn’t a one-liner about a grad too naive to know that graduating from college doesn’t guarantee a job. It’s a story about what ‘college’ means and about marginal, for-profit ‘colleges’ that squeeze four years of fees from their students and leave them with all the debt and little of the education or prospects that they counted on.

The essence of Gimein’s argument is that Monroe masquerades as a College (providing a liberal arts education) but is really more of a vocational, for-profit school (not unlike a trade school for auto mechanics):

As should be very clear to anyone who’s taken a look at what Monroe College is really about, however, what’s at stake is not a “liberal arts” education as anybody understands it. The difference between what Thompson was offered and what a traditional vocational school-the kind of “business institute” that Monroe once billed itself as-proposes comes down mainly to her education taking longer, costing more, and offering far less certain outcomes.
The magic word here is college. By presenting itself as a “college,” Monroe and similar institutions achieve the neat trick of offering a lot less for a lot more money. Hardly anyone would blink at the notion that an unhappy, unemployed graduate might sue a trade school for getting a raw deal. But by transmuting itself into a “college,” Monroe can siphon four full years of tuition from its students and at the end of it all dance away from any commitment, implicit or explicit, to find its students jobs because that’s not what a “college education” is about.

Read the whole thing – he offers a very provocative argument. I don’t know Monroe College, but I think we can all agree in the principle of truth in advertising.
HT: Chronicle of Higher Education

Personal Responsibility and Public Policy

A good word from Thomas Sowell here on personal responsibility and its frequent neglect in discussions of societal ills. My favorite clip (with classes about to start up again):

Students are discussed largely as passive recipients of good or bad education.
But education is not something that can be given to anybody. It is something that students either acquire or fail to acquire.

Read the whole thing.
Thomas Sowell is the author of the recent outstanding book The Housing Boom and Bust which I finished on vacation this summer. If you want a penetrating, 150-page look at the forces that (cumulatively) brought disaster upon the housing market (and with it, the world’s economy), look no further.

Dual Citizens – Jason Stellman

Speaking of the Two Kingdom Theology and Neo-Kuyperian discussion, this new book, Dual Citizens: Worship and Life between the Already and the Not Yet, probably contains some extended reflection from the Two Kingdom perspective. The author is the Rev. Jason J. Stellman, a graduate of Westminster Seminary California. Rev. Stellman is ordained by the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America and is the planting pastor of Exile Presbyterian Church in the Seattle, WA area.
The endorsements:
“I do not know of a book quite like this one. It is a devotional theology of the Christian life that is far richer than the standard fare on offer in the “spirituality” and “Christian disciplines” sections of Christian bookstores. Yet it is also a down-to-earth account of how the gospel and its public ministry of Word and sacrament provide the right coordinates for our pilgrimage at a time when we are easily drawn off course by the winds of fashion and consumer tastes. After reading this book, you will doubtless be provoked, as I was, not only to ponder our precarious location at the intersection of “this present evil age” and “the age to come,” but to praise the God who leads us by his Word and Spirit as we journey on. Digesting this book will lead you to sing with greater gusto those closing words of another hymn: “Solid joys and lasting treasures, none but Zion’s children know.”
- (From the Foreword) Michael Horton, Westminster Seminary, Escondido, California
“The subject of Christ and culture has never been as popular among conservative Protestants in the United States as it is today, and the topic has never needed as much attention from the perspective of the church. It gets that attention in this important book by Jason Stellman. Dual Citizens will certainly upset those used to thinking of Christ as mainly the transformer of culture. But for genuine wisdom not only on the culture wars, but on the culture, ways, and habits of the church, Stellman’s discussion is the place to go.”
- Dr. D. G. Hart, Director of academic programs Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Wilmington, Delaware
HT: Deborah Finnamore

Healed For Holiness – John Piper

Piper Clarifies Tornado Remarks

John Piper clarified his remarks on the tornado that ripped through Minneapolis, MN while the ELCA was having their national convention (during which they voted to allow for people in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church“). In a sense, he reiterated his remarks, which many have misunderstood.
Piper notes:

God’s message to me in my tornado [prostate cancer] was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs. My tornado was “a gentle but firm warning to me and all of us: Turn from every approval of sin in your life. Turn from the justification and promotion of any behaviors in your life that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great biblical heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from your inveterate bent to distort the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform you and all other sinners.” (from Thursday’s post)

Read the whole thing.

All The Money In The World, Redistributed

I was humbled and somewhat amazed when my wife mentioned this to me over lunch today:
Question: If all the net worth (money, assets, etc.) in the world were redistributed, so that every human being had the same amount, what would that amount be?
Answer: About $9,000
HT: Ask Marilyn
Wow. This should evoke (from all of us) thankfulness to God, and generous, wise stewardship of the incredible wealth that He’s entrusted to us. We can also observe the widespread economic blessings of a free, capitalistic economic system. For an excellent argument that wealth is actually created in such systems (not merely transferred), see Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay Richards, which I previously introduced.
Update: Keep in mind that $9000 goes a lot farther in some parts of the world than it does in the U.S. This in no way detracts from the importance of compassion for those in need. But part of the solution, particularly in the two-thirds world, is more freedom for individual citizens to own private property, and to steward it to reap a return on investment (which they are allowed to keep and re-invest). Wealth is created in such contexts, such that there are overall net gains (for the society as a whole), as we’ve seen (fantastically) in countries like the United States. Again, see the Richards book. [A lot of ministries assist with microloans for the indigenous poor, facilitating them to start small businesses. I'm told that these methods tend to work quite well.]

ELCA Approves Leaders in Same-Sex Relationships

How tragic:

As expected, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted the following resolution:
“Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships.”
The vote was 619-402.

Later that afternoon, their leadership voted 559-451 to allow “people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.”

God’s Two Kingdoms

The relationship between an individual Christian, the local church (as a corporate gathering of believers), and the wider secular culture is frequently batted around these days. Kevin DeYoung and the folks at the White Horse Inn have provided something like an introduction/primer on this topic with their exchange in recent days.
Here is the sequence of their interaction:
1. Kevin posts on Two Kingdom Theology and Neo-Kuyperians, offering some praise and critique for both.
2. The White Horse Inn folks reply; first, Jason Stellman; then, Darryl Hart.
3. Kevin offers some brief follow-up.
HT: JT

Tim Keller: The Gospel and The Poor

On July 22, the Reverend Tim Keller, of Redeemer Church in Manhattan, NYC, joined Here’s Life Inner City to discuss “The Gospel and The Poor: A Case for Compassion” at the Campus Crusade for Christ U.S. Staff Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. Here is a 19-page PDF outline of his message.

Tim Keller: The Gospel and the Poor: A Case for Compassion from Here's Life Inner City on Vimeo.

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