Happy birthday, Mommy!
I love you!
Wayward began as a Katrina recovery blog in 2006 but has since wandered off to consider social justice; theology; the intersections of faith, politics, and the environment; and a life lived between DC, Idaho, Nebraska, and New Hampshire.
Progressive Christian, conservationist, music lover, craft beer enthusiast, Dartmouth alum, and Sierra Club online organizer. Former DNC staffer, online consultant, MyDD blogger, and ministry intern. Views my own. Follow me on Twitter: @nathanempsall
I'd never been to New York before Thursday and still only spent an hour driving through, but let me just say this about that: the Bronx is no fun during rush hour.
Dartmouth’s winter term has finally come to a close. I have, in the past week, written over 90 double-spaced pages, most of it in three quick bursts*. As you may imagine, I am exhausted, but there’s no rest for the weary: I am driving to Miami with the Dartmouth Navigators Christian Fellowship starting today for several days of Habitat for Humanity work. Blogging will either be light or non-existent for the next two weeks, just as it’s been for the past two, but I hope to be back with a roar in April. As for this post, it’s one of those personal entries a blogger allows his or herself, as opposed to a post with a point, like all that political garbage I write.
I've written about 70 pages in the past four days, including 20 in eight hours earlier today. So, I feel justified in being a little late with the Musical Monday for the second week in a row. Boo finals.
Dr. Christina Romer, chair of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, was on "Meet the Press" this morning. Substance of her remarks aside, her choice of words brings to mind rhetoric from the 2008 campaign, but not necessarily from the candidate you'd expect. From the transcript:
PRES. OBAMA: If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, then we're going to get through this. And I'm very confident about that.
MR. GREGORY: Are the fundamentals of this economy sound?
DR. ROMER: Well, of course the fundamentals are sound in the sense that the American workers are sound, we have a good capital stock, we have good technology. We know that, that temporarily we're in a mess, right? We've seen huge job loss, we've seen very large falls in GDP. So certainly in the short run we're in a, in a bad situation.
Today is the first day of finals at Dartmouth. The past two days were reading period. I'm still plowing through the research for three large papers all due next week (two literary reviews for Native American Studies courses and the remnants of my honors-thesis-turned-independent-study on the religious right and emerging church). On Thursday - in six days - I'll leave for a Spring Break Habitat for Humanity trip to Miami. There may be some blogging over these busy few days, but I'm not going to make any assumptions just yet.
Here's this week's Musical Monday clip, a day late and a dollar short. This one's for Jordan - my all time favorite scene from M*A*S*H, in which the crew sings the beautiful canon Dona Nobis Pacem to their Catholic chaplain, Father Mulcahy.
You may have seen the new American Religious Identification Survey, which shows that Americans have become slightly less “religious” over the past ten years. The survey’s most important finding was that 15% of Americans claim they have no religion – a small number, but almost double the 8% of 1990’s survey. The study contains several other interesting findings about the demographics of America’s religiosity, but the key takeaway is that an increasingly large minority of Americans are rejecting all forms of organized religion.
Don't blame secularism for driving up the percentage of Americans who say they have no religion, says Barry Kosmin, co-researcher for the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS). "These people aren't secularized. They're not thinking about religion and rejecting it; they're not thinking about it at all," Kosmin says.
In a nation that has long been mostly Christian, "the challenge to Christianity … does not come from other religions but from a rejection of all forms of organized religion," the report concludes… The Rev. Kendall Harmon, theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, blames social mobility. "Mobility means your ideas are more challenged and your family and childhood traditions have less influence, particularly if you are not strongly rooted in them. I see kids today who have no vocabulary of faith, and neither do many of their parents."
Harmon recalls, "A couple came into my office once with a yellow pad of their teenage son's questions. One of them was: 'What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?'"
I decided, why don't we be a church for people who hate church? There are plenty of good churches around here. Why don't we have church for people who hate church? And so I went out and for twelve weeks I went door to door, and I knocked on homes for about 12 weeks and just took an opinion poll. I had a survey with me. I just said, "My name is Rick Warren. I'm not here to sell you anything, I'm not here to convert you, I'm not here to witness to you. I just want to ask you three or four questions. Question number one: Are you an active member of a local church – of any kind of religion – synagogue, mosque, whatever?" If they said yes, I said, "Great, God bless you, keep going," and I politely excused myself and went to the next home. When I'd find somebody who'd say, "No, I don't go anywhere," I'd say, "Perfect; you're just the kind of guy I want to talk to. This is great, you don't go anywhere. So let me ask you a question. Why do you think most people don't attend church?" And I just wrote the answers down. I asked, "If you were looking for a church, what kind of things would you look for?" And I'd just list them. "What advice would you give to me as the pastor of a new church? How can I help you?" So they'd say, "I think churches exist for the community; not vice versa," and I'd write that down.
Now the four biggest reasons in my area why people didn't go to church – here's what they were: Number one, they said, "Sermons are boring and they don't relate to my life." So I decided I had to say something on Sunday that would help people on Monday. Number two, they said, "Members are unfriendly to visitors; I feel like it's a clique." Number three, they said, "Most churches seem more interested in your money than you as a person." And number four, they said, "We want quality children's programs for our children."
Now it's interesting to me that out of the four biggest reasons why people said they didn't go to church, none of them were theological. They were all sociological. And I had people say, "Oh, it's not that I don't like God. I like God; I just can't stand church." I go, okay; we'll build a whole new kind of church.
"Twitter" is everywhere. I can't seem to escape it. Every morning, it's everyone in my Politico and NBC newsletters. David Gregory, Rick Sanchez, half of Congress, they all
This esteemed Ivy League institution announced the identity of its 17th president today: Dr. Jim Yong Kim, MD, who will take office on July 1, shortly after I will have graduated. From what I’ve learned of Dr. Kim today, I’m very excited about his selection. Kim has an extensive background in global health and social justice concerns. From a letter to campus from Ed Haldeman, Chair of the Board of Trustees:
Thanks to his inspiring and transformative leadership, Jim Yong Kim has had a far reaching impact throughout his career - both through his teaching and the global organizations he has led. Jim, who currently serves as Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has worked for more than 20 years to improve health in developing countries - first as co-founder and executive director of Partners In Health, a not-for-profit organization that supports health programs in poor communities worldwide; and then, as Director of the HIV/AIDS department at the World Health Organization (WHO), where he helped change the global response to that disease…
He has been teaching and mentoring for more than two decades and teaches an undergraduate class at Harvard today. His classes have proven enormously popular (and constantly oversubscribed), and he plans to continue to teach undergraduates at Dartmouth.
Jim's visionary work has earned him widespread - and well-deserved - international recognition, including receiving a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship in 2003 and being selected as one of TIME magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2006.
Certainly, a vital part of that learning takes place in the classrooms in Kemeny, in Dartmouth Hall, the labs in Fairchild and among the stacks in Baker. But just as important to that learning is what happens out on Whitey Burnham Field, up on Mount Moosilauke, here on the stage in the Hop and, yes, even late at night on Webster Avenue. Education is not just about transferring knowledge, [but also] about learning how to be citizens of the world, how to work effectively with others as part of a team, and how to emerge from your studies with an enduring and robust philosophy of life.