Worth Reading - 5/12

1. Who owns the sermon a pastor preaches each week? It may be the answer is more complicated that you think:

There’s a long history of pastors turning their sermons into books. Charles Spurgeon did it. So did Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, Dwight Moody and Charles Wesley, and a host of pastors since.

All hoped to get their message out of the church and into the world. Most made a bit of extra income along the way.

“They made money on books—but it was certainly not lifestyle changing money,” says Alan Phillips, associate general counsel for LifeWay Christian Resources. “That’s not the case now.”

The success of sermon-inspired books like The Purpose Driven Life—which sold more than 30 million copies—has turned sermons into potentially valuable commodities, says Philips.

That may be good for the publishing business and authors, but it raises a complex and sometimes uncomfortable legal question: Who owns a pastor’s sermon?
First, home schooling teens socialize more than other teens. Using a standard measurement scale of 21 questions, we measured the extent to which the teens spend time interacting with their family, their friends, and other significant adults. Home school teens indicated significantly more social interaction than other teens. The S-Question assumes that home schooling teens are not engaged in social interaction. This is contrary to what is actually occurring.

It is true, however, that the home schooling teens are not in every category engaged in more social interaction. There is a difference in the target of the interactions. When asked about interaction with their families, home school youth indicated significantly more interaction in comparison to other youth. They indicated significantly more interaction with other significant adults. However, they indicated significantly less interaction with their friends. Home school youth interact more with family and adults, less with friends. The social interaction of home schooling teens is different from that of others.

The teens tell us that home schoolers have more social interaction overall, but less with their peers. We are confident that this reflects genuine differences because we saw the same differences when we asked their parents.

3. Pulling specific policy decisions as absolute commands from Scripture can be a bad idea for either the political left or right, particularly when it is done poorly:

Recently a group of mostly liberal Protestant clergy (but including a Catholic bishop) signed a Nashville Tennessean op-ed denouncing conservative Tennessee legislators who oppose Obamacare-facilitated Medicaid expansion in their state. The headline was: “Elected leaders show disregard for God’s word.”

Their op-ed insists these opponents “have chosen to ignore what the Bible clearly teaches.”
In claiming the realm of reason, liberalism also claims the realm of public space, which is precisely the space that is ruled by the rules of reason, which liberalism has laid down: “The public/private distinction . . . is neither spatial nor material; it rests on a prior division of the reasonable and unreasonable” (122). The realm of reason is also the realm of will, of choice. In private life, liberalism permits imposed life-styles; not in public.

But liberal reason is restless: “every conception of liberalism . . . is vulnerable to the argument that reason can go still further, that is, that it has conceded too broad a domain to the private,” the irrational and unwilled, which are essentially the same: “Choices made under circumstances of coercion or false belief are not deserving of respect.” On reflection, though, it is not at all clear which choices are freely made and which are coerced or nudged. So, liberal reason has a special urgency in its imperialism: “Every choice can be seen as a product of a particular context that is itself unchosen; every choice will have some harmful effect on an unwilling other. Reason can endlessly pursue both of these claims,” and slowly, surely gobble up whatever remains of the private realm of irrationality.

That parents come under suspicion for teaching religious “myths” to their children isn’t a defect in liberalism. It’s the inherent imperialism of liberal reason coming to expression.