Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Further Thought on the Middletons

The star of the royal wedding was the lovely bride, Kate Middleton. Equally lovely, though, was the maid of honor, Pippa Middleton. And the bride's brother, James, was quite presentable while reading the choice Scripture portion from Romans.

Which made me wonder - how did the Middleton parents produce such a handsome family?

The answer turns out to have a good sociological underpinning. Michael and Carole Middleton met while they were both flight attendants - a business that rewards good looks. And opportunities for male flight attendants opened up in the 1970s as a result of legal and cultural changes promoting gender equality - just when Michael Middleton got into the business. So the airline business at that moment brought together unusually good-looking men and women as co-workers and status equals - a good basis for mate selection.

The fruits of that particular union produced several "genetic celebrities" who were on display all over the world yesterday.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Middleton Marriage May Upgrade Dysfunctional Windsors

I am glad that William Windsor, whose parents made such a hash of their marriage, has married into a more stable family. I wish the young couple the best.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is Capitalism Consistent With Christian Values?

Is capitalism consistent with Christian values? In only one of these groups do a majority say yes.
Democrats? Independents? Republicans? Tea Partiers?

Yep, only in the Tea Party did a majority agree - and not a huge majority at that: 56%.

In the other political groupings the yes votes were:
Democrats 26%
Independents 39%
Republicans 46%

Asked the opposite question - Is capitalism at odds with Christian values? - the trend reverses:
Democrats 53%
Independents 41%
Republicans 37%
Tea Partiers 35%

Data from a new Public Religion Research Institute/Religious News Service survey

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Intelligence Leads to More Drinking?

Here is a poser. Two recent studies found that "more intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children."

I don't know why this would so, and am surprised at the result.

My best guess about why: intelligence does not reduce social awkwardness, and in confirmed nerds may increase it. Many people say they drink as a "social lubricant." Perhaps intelligent people need more social lubrication than others.

Just a guess, though. Puzzling.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hinduism - the Next American Banquet Religion

The Institute of American Religion reports in their first census of American Hindus that there are about 1,600 Hindu temples and centers in the U.S., with about 600,000 active adherents. As is typical of most religions, twice that number call themselves Hindu in national polls. Most Hindus are concentrated in greater New York City and in California, but there are significant groups of Indian physicians and motel owners spread across the country, most of whom are at least nominally Hindu.

In 1955 Will Herberg published a landmark book on the American religious landscape, Protestant, Catholic, Jew. He argued that since World War II, Catholics and Jews were becoming fully incorporated into the mainstream of American culture, which had previously been predominantly Protestant. His measure of this new acceptance is if a civic organization, such at Rotary, held a banquet, what kind of minister would they ask to bless the meal? Before the war, he argued, the list would have been limited to Protestants. In the new religious culture after the war, the local Catholic priest or the local rabbi would also be included in the uncontroversial "banquet religions."

The silver lining of 9/11 is that Muslims are increasingly included in the normal self-conceptions of mainstream religion in America. Starting with Pres. Bush's invitation to an imam to take part in the memorial service at the Washington Cathedral (the so-called "National Cathedral") along with the usual Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish religious figures, Muslim clerics and community leaders are being routinely included in America's civic banquets. There are some anti-Muslim agitators, to be sure, who object to the mainstreaming of American Islam, but they are losing the cultural struggle.

The next American "banquet religion," I expect, will be Hinduism. Pres. Obama made mention of Hindus in his inaugural address - a first. I expect that this kind of rhetorical inclusion will become routine. Indian-Americans are increasingly prominent in politics, though the most successful so far, Gov. Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Haley of South Carolina, are Christians. The moment will come soon, though, when there are practicing Hindus in Congress. When we next have a "National Cathedral" event of the civil religion with presidents and former presidents in the front row, someone will think to ask the local Hindu leader to ask a blessing, too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Only Half of Last Year's Law School Grads Are Full-Time Lawyers

Fewer than half of last year's law school graduates are employed full-time in law jobs. That is the estimate of law professor Paul Campos in The New Republic.

Campos made this calculation because law schools have been routinely lying about their graduates' employment rate. Almost all of them claimed 90% or higher were working in law jobs within a year. Lately they have been under pressure to produce more credible numbers, and have been revising their claims downwards. Still, Campos contends, they are fibbing quite a bit.

Truth is good. True numbers are better than false. Campos' main point is sound.

Still, a 50% legal employment rate might not be as bad as it sounds. There are quite a few things that law school graduates might fruitfully be doing right after law school. And many of those not employed in law right now will likely find their way into the profession as economic conditions improve.

One alternative that I am particularly interested in is how many are having children. I can't answer that question, and neither can Campos. Still, most law students are women, and most of them wait a bit after college before going to law school. So it is reasonable to expect that a significant fraction of those graduating from law school are in their prime fertility years - their late twenties or early thirties. Most probably put off having children while they were in school. So some of those who do not find full-time legal jobs right out of law school may be taking a temporary fertility break.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

China's Government Suppresses Christians on Easter

I am grateful to be able to walk to Easter services with my family with the full support of my community and government.

In China the government suppresses the growing millions of Christians, especially those not in the officially recognized churches. Today a Beijing house church that had not been allowed to rent a sufficient worship space planned to hold Easter services outdoors. The Chinese police had already placed all the church leaders under house arrest. This morning they arrested members as they tried to gather at a public square for an Easter worship service.

Someday there will be freedom in China. Then, I believe, their will be a massive, home-grown evangelistic explosion there.