Thursday, June 06, 2002

Posts are in reverse chronological order.

Unitarian Universalism

I have been reading the encyclopedic The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin (Hank Hanegraaff, ed.) They have provided some interesting information on Unitarian Universalism. (One complaint: the treatment of Unitarianism is relegated to an appendix—I think it should be upgraded to its own chapter in the book-proper.).

According to The Kingdom of the Cults, the number of UUs in the U.S. is thought to be comparable to (but slightly less than) the number of Muslims: about 500,000. (The number of American Muslims is often greatly exaggerated for political purposes.) In a ranking that aggregates employment, home ownership, education, and income they are at the top of the ecclesiastical food chain. In more specific terms of percentage of adherents that are college graduates, The UU’s claim 49.5% compared with Jews (46.7%), Catholics (20%), Mormons (19.2%), and Baptists (10.4%) (But we Baptists sure know how to eat!).

Also interesting is an apparent shift in UU doctrine away from the UU church I knew and loathed, which was out-and-out humanism, to, within the last 10-15 years, a doctrine heavily influenced by New Age type spiritism. It is theorized that the shift is fueled by baby boomer agnostics, now approaching the warning track of eternity, looking in all the wrong places for the meaning of life.

The UU church is even beginning to engage in evangelism, which is almost unimaginable. It is like the Mormons deciding to shut down all efforts to outreach.

In my experience, there is no person more exasperating to try to witness to than a Unitarian. And it jibes with the statistics provided by Martin. Unitarians tend to be highly educated and often respond with quiet, amused expressions that send a clear message: You are an idiot and I know it, because I am soooo smart. I have no interest in discussing this with you because you are so clearly my intellectual inferior. They have this odd mix of superiority combined with a lack of passion.

From my years as a university professor I have a suspicion, with only anecdotal supporting data, that UUs have significant influence at institutes of higher learning. Indeed many of the stories we read (with decreasing incredulousness or rather increasing numbness) about the indoctrination of college students are consistent with a UU influence on campus.

Unitarian wristband: What would Anybody Do?

Strange Calculus

I am very supportive of Israel in her struggle against terrorism (even though I am not a dispensationalist). However, there is one particular tragedy-PR gimmick that I wish they would stop: scaling the number of deaths (resulting from an act of terrorism) by the ratio of the U.S. and Israeli populations (about 42) and stating that: “it is equivalent to (fill in the number) American deaths”. For example, it the recent attack on a bus that killed 18, I heard an Israeli official say that this is equivalent to the death of 800 Americans. But deaths aren’t measured by the fraction of the population (unless to make a point about genocide), the real yardstick is still the absolute number – this tells the story in terms of the number of grieving families left behind. And it is not 42 but just one grieving American family is as tragic as one grieving Israeli family.

I grasp the point that they are trying to make, but I don’t think this is the right way to do it.

Palestinian Statehood

It think it fairly obvious, from many recent analyses, that the Palestinians view a state merely as the first step in liberating Palestine from “river to sea”, i.e., the complete destruction of Israel. However, even apart from that I would like to see more discussion on how hopeless even a “limited” Palestinian state would be. There is no precedent for a modern prosperous Arab state, apart from oil revenues. Israel is the only country in the region with a real economy. Egypt doesn't "make" much of anything. Nor do Syria or Jordan. Work-ethics are basically unheard of. The non-oil states are propped up by the oil states, in an attempt to stave off “excessive” Islamic revolutionary furor that may ultimately target the sheikdoms. The oil states, in turn, are basically wealthy welfare states "worked" by slave-like importations of Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, and other 3rd worlders. The only real meaningful work for Palestinians is in Israel -- despite huge infusions of oil (and western) money into the Palestinian Authority (ostensibly for purposes of nation building). That is why many ordinary Palestinians suffer so much when Israel is forced to close the crossings.

If the Palestinians are granted statehood, our beloved allies the Saudis (and the US, and the EU) would have to subsidize it. And the Saudis would have to continue surreptitiously funding insurgencies into Israel, lest the suicide bombers begin showing up at the palace gates.

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