Southern Religion

Dolphins and whales on the Southern Baptist menu?

Bottlenose Dolphin breaching in the bow wave of a boat

Bottlenose Dolphin breaching in the bow wave of a boat

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, returned from a tropical vacation admiring and willing to eat whales and dolphins, despite scientific evidence that dolphins are second only to human beings in the size and complexity of their neural architecture and that they “have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.”

In extreme circumstances he would reluctantly dine on them with his family because his young earth creationist fundamentalism dictates that there is a “crucial and categorical distinction between human beings — created in God’s own image — and the rest of the created order. We must reject the very notion of ‘non-human persons.'”

Indeed, he argues that attempts to secure them against arbitrary captivity, slavery and potentially a place on his dinner plate by creating for them the status of “non-human persons” creates “confusion about the distinction between humans and animals serves to threaten human dignity.”

Thus scientific debate about the significance of the ratio of neocortex to the primitive brain, the meaning of dolphin tool use or self-recognitition seems to be of no consequence to Mohler. As made, his argument suggests that dolphins could learn to read the bible underwater and form and attend Cetacean Southern Baptist Churches without being due protection from being slaughtered and served to Japanese school children as “whale meat,” as documented in The Cove.

Although Mohler and his family would partake only “if no other food could be obtained,” as he says. Which may be no reassurance to intelligent, self-aware cetaceans.

January 7, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , , | 2 Comments

What does the Baptist Faith and Message say about the Pythagorean theorem?

The decision by Truett-McConnell College to become the first Baptist college to require its faculty to affirm the Southern Baptist Convention‘s Baptist Faith and Message is troubling.

The decision keeps alive a 30-year war that has scarred the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. The casualties from the battles are numerous.

International missionaries have been fired or forced to resign.

North American missionaries were made to resign or retire.

Seminary professors were shown the door.

Even ministers who helped supervise students were no longer welcome.

Now, expect some college professors at Truett-McConnell to be looking for work. Associated Baptist Press reported that math professor Roy Hardy told the Georgia Christian Index that he agreed with most but not all of the SBC statement, adding that he doesn’t think that it is infallible.

“I feel it goes well beyond the ‘essentials’ of the faith,” he said.

Hope Dr. Hardy has his resume updated.

The college’s decision forces professors in all disciplines to adhere to a theological document which likely resides outside their areas of expertise.

What does the Baptist Faith and Message have to do with Roy Hardy’s ability to teach Truett-McConnell students the finer points of Calculus?

How can adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message help an economics professor show students the intricacies of supply and demand?

Will devotion to the statement help English professors teach students how to write better?

According the college’s web site, among the degrees offered by the school is a bachelor of arts in humanities.

“The program of study develops in students the fundamental skills upon which all professions are built: reasoning, communication skills, critical thinking, logic and clarity of expression. The strong concentration in English courses provides students additional opportunities to strengthen their communication skills, clarity of expression and critical thinking abilities.”

Turns out those critical thinking abilities have to end where the Baptist Faith and Message begins.

January 7, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | Comments Off on What does the Baptist Faith and Message say about the Pythagorean theorem?

Lost Supper Blasphemy?

Is it blasphemy?

Let’s ask the Irish, whose government is deeply confused about church/state relationships.

Lost fans, who are meditating on the Lost Supper images for clues, are probably more concerned about whether President Obama’s State of the Union will sully the hallowed first episode of the alleged “last” Lost season with preemption.

Do you prefer (or are you more offended by) the Galactica version? Or one of the fifty or so others?

Blasphemy is, fundamentally, in the brain of the beholder, is it not?

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Cultural, Law | , , | Comments Off on Lost Supper Blasphemy?

The struggle of women religious

Southern Baptist women are not alone in facing oppressive denominational strategies. The Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley’s Sister Sandra Schneiders writes for the National Catholic Reporter:

When the Vatican investigation of U.S. women religious was announced some months ago without any preparation, consultation, or even the courtesy of a notification to congregational leaders that it was about to happen, many people, religious and laity alike, were stunned at what seemed like a surprise attack aimed at a most unlikely target, given the massive and unaddressed problems besetting the clergy and hierarchy at the moment.

She could not be more clear about what this apostolic visitation means:

Many people, including many religious, think this investigation is an unprecedented assault on religious. Its scope may be unprecedented but its content certainly is not. Many, perhaps most, religious congregations in this country have in their archives documents and correspondence chronicling equally or even more serious confrontations between their order and the local ecclesiastical authorities. (I suggest “Topic 11” in the excellent CD course, “The History of Women Religious in the United States,” by Margaret S. Thompson in the Now You Know Media Series, for archival documentation on this point.)

These records, going back decades or even centuries, tell of threats and intimidation to enforce conscience-violating policies or practices (such as racial discrimination) instigated by members of the hierarchy, drastic sanctions for non-subordination to clergy in matters over which the clerics had no jurisdiction, demotion and even permanent exile without due process of lawfully elected and even revered superiors (including founders), appointment without election of compliant puppet governments, interference in appointments of sisters, unilateral closing of institutions, forced acceptance of apostolates not appropriate to the congregation, and even outright theft of financial assets, to name only the most egregious examples.

More about which, later. Meanwhile, we recommend the entire entry to you here.

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Religion, SBC | , , | Comments Off on The struggle of women religious

A story about a security company

This is a story about a security company, although it focuses on the assertion that “More than 1,200 crimes were committed against Christian churches and ministries in 2009.” And on apparently related statistics.

Nothing wrong with that, although the readers would have been better served if the story had detailed the underlying sources used to develop the statistics cited (the proprietary report upon which the story is based apparently is no longer available online). And it would have been helpful if the story had included illuminating comments from academics who have appropriate expertise in the analysis of such statistics. Just so the readers could make well-reasoned judgments about the validity of the numbers.

Absent that kind of balancing and enlightening detail, it isn’t journalism. It’s a form of advertising for the source of the material.

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Churches | , , | Comments Off on A story about a security company