Friday will mark the 100th anniversary of the tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, in which 146 people, mostly poor immigrant Jewish and Italian women, including a fourteen year old girl, were killed in a fire at a sweatshop in Greenwich Village, New York. That is not exactly right. Just as it was not Hurricane Katrina but the failure of the levees around New Orleans that caused the flood in that great city, at Triangle, the problem was not just the fire, but the fact that the fire escapes were inadequate and the additional doors to the building were locked from the outside to make sure none of the workers could exit with any pilfered fabric. In the event, they did not exit at all. The workers died.
BBC has a report out on a new study that predicts religion will become extinct in nine countries. The study applies mathematical models to human behavior. Hmmmm.
In the Good Book, we read in the story of Nicodemus, that the Spirit blows where it will, and that like the wind which moves the leaves of the trees, we know not whence it comes or whither it blows.
But, in the modern research university, the Spirit cannot be measured mathematically and so we get reports like this. The editors at the BBC, I presume, are like most news reporters and editors. They consider the Church to be the Easter Bunny with real estate. But, me thinks there is more than a little evidence of the tooth fairy at work in studies such as this. Reductionism, even mathematically precise reductionism, is an affront to human knowledge, not evidence of that knowledge at work.
Fox News suggested that CNN's Nic Robertson and other reporters had been used by Lubyan dictator as a "human shield." This is, as Robertson has replied, nonsense. Robertson goes on to note that he sees the Fox News reporter at breakfast but not on tours of the capital city.
How many more lies does Fox have to perpetrate before they lose their right to be considered a news outfit?
As always, the supple and penetrating mind of Professor Mark Silk looks past the headlines to raise important question about the role of religion in culture. He asks what the armed intervention in Libya means for the theology of jihad in a post today at Spiritual Politics.
The Public Religion Research Institute this morning released a new survey of polling data regarding Catholic attitudes towards same-sex issues. The report indicates that Catholics are more supportive of same-sex marriage and other gay rights than other American Christians.
According to the report, which was based on several surveys, 43% of Catholics support same-sex marriage and another 31% support civil unions, while only 21% of Catholics oppose all legal recognition of same-sex unions. By comparison, 16% of white evangelicals, 23% of black Protestants and 36% of mainline Protestants support same-sex marriage.
The survey also found that if the pollsters specified that same sex marriage would be defined as a civil marriage (“like you get at city hall”), support among Catholics increases to 71%. As well, the survey indicates that Latino Catholics, the fastest growing part of the Catholic population, are even more supportive of gay rights than their Anglo co-religionists.
My friend John Judis asks some important questions of those liberals who have come out in opposition to the intervention in Libya.
If America had gone into Libya immediately and alone, I think we would be right to wonder if Obama had gotten Oval Office fever. But, it seems to me that by encouraging others to take the lead, in their own neighborhood, and intervening only when it became obvious that such intervention was needed to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, which is what an attack on Benghazi would have become, the President has shown true leadership. He has met the crisis at hand, perhaps a little tardily but not much, and he has done so in such a way as to encourage other countries to step up to the plate and not simply look to the U.S. to take the risk such interventions entail.
War is always an ugly thing. But, it is not the ugliest of things. Allowing Gaddafi to murder tens of thousands of his own people would have been uglier.
Yesterday’s conference on the Church and Immigration at Catholic University was fascinating in every regard. Robert Royal raised an important point that we who advocate for immigration reform are sometimes a bit to dismissive regarding the breaking of law, although I think it must also be said that it is incumbent upon legislators to draft laws that are just, and our current immigration reform have, as one participant put it, all the moral force of laws against jaywalking.
I mentioned earlier that I had been prescient. In January, I wondered why the United States, with all its many financial burdens, had not taken steps to draw down the enormous U.S. forces in Europe. After all, these bases produce a lot of revenue to the neighborhoods where they are located and they could just as easily be closed or at least relocated to Ohio.
I have received confirmation that the White House will shortly announce just such a draw down of troops, especially Army forces. In Germany, which once had more than a whole Army division, only three brigades will be left. The large Air Force installations in Europe will not be affected by the changes.
It will be curious to see how this plays politically. Coming on the heals of President Obama's desire to let Europe take the lead in confronting the crisis in Libya, I suspect conservatives will be yelping about an abdication of U.S. leadership. But, I suspect many swing voters feel the U.S. is over-extended and that there is no excuse for maintaining foreign military missions that serve no direct and obvious purpose.
As mentioned previously, today the USCCB and Catholic University's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies are co-sponsoring a conference on immigration and the Church. It is being live streamed here.
The Anchoress explains what we do, and do not, know about the apparent suspension of Father Corapi, a favorite on EWTN. Her counsel to not rush to judgment is wise. And, she is undoubtedly correct when she writes that there is something excessive among the hero-worshippers of the "truth-telling" priests on EWTN.
(N.B. One of those EWTN priests, Msgr. Stuart Swetland, really is a hell of a good guy and completely without the bombast of his colleagues.)
Still, everytime I flip channels and come across the supremely self-confident Corapi screaming about whatever cause he is embracing on any given day, I confess I have had the thought: Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much. Stridency is rarely evidence of real, genuine faith.
It is also telling that Father Corapi's statement is so breathtakingly self-centered as to cause one to question whether he has any clue about why the Church must take all accusation of priestly impropriety seriously.