Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

It’s a terrible job market for new college graduates. Lots of companies aren’t hiring at all this year. Many companies that are hiring have seen their reputations tarnished recently. And not everyone is self-motivated enough to follow Seth Godin’s advice.

That explains why a surprising number of college students are looking for (government / religious) jobs. Applications to graduate programs in (“public policy” / religion) are up substantially over previous years:

Though Attridge identified declining job prospects as a potential motivator for students to continue their education, he pointed to a crop of contemporary moral and (political / religious) issues as a key influence on students seeking [to] study (public policy / religion).

Among those relatively new issues are global climate change and “gross immorality in the financial sector,” Attridge said, which may have inspired students to take a more (command-and-control / command-and-control) approach toward community service.

“There are questions about whether the fundamental moral fiber of the country is corroded,” Attridge said.

The explanation resonates strongly with Stephen Blackmer, who will begin studying for a master of (public policy / divinity) at [Yale] this fall. Blackmer, 53, had worked in conservation and sustainable development for nearly 30 years before answering a call to join the (government / ministry).

Blackmer said his experience has taught him that the main obstacle to slowing climate change is not technological or economic, but (political / spiritual).

“Climate change is in effect a (political / spiritual) problem, because we’ve developed the technologies to protect the world from climate change, but not the (authority / wisdom) to use them,” he said.

Blackmer, who said he hopes to join an “environmental (lobby / ministry)” after graduating, said the slumping economy made his decision to attend (policy / divinity) school easier.

In fact, people like Blackmer are overwhelming graduate programs, who are seeing record numbers of applicants. Probably, though, there’s nothing to worry about:

Attridge and Aleshire take a positive outlook to the future of (political / theological) education, and both said they expect the applications to continue to rise.

“We’re at a cultural moment when there’s a lot of concern about the common good,” Aleshire said. “(Politics / Religion) is a social force.”


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If you have a Google News Alert for “LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing arm” like I do, you probably saw the large number of articles describing how sales of new baptisms slipped again in 2008. (I was unable to find any good statistics on sales of pre-owned baptisms.)

And if you are a scholar of religion like I am, you probably ran to their website so you could download the data and play with it in Excel. You probably also hunted down some UCR data on crime. You probably started searching for correlations. And you were probably surprised to discover that higher Baptism rates mean higher murder rates!


Now, whenever we discover a relationship like this, we need to be careful. In general, correlation does not imply causation. There are certainly other options available for explaining this relationship:

1. Reverse Causation

If you flip the graph, you could construct the alternative hypothesis “murder causes baptism”. However, dead people cannot be baptised (unless you are a Mormon, which most Southern Baptists are not). QED.

2. Third factor causes both

Maybe Global Warming is responsible. After all, when it’s hotter, the blood gets angry. And also when it’s hotter, the cool dip of a baptism seems more appealing. Some NASA data should clear things up:


Looks like that doesn’t work either.

3. Coincidence

If this weren’t a religious phenomenon, we could chalk it up to “coincidence”. However, as everyone knows, a coincidence is just “god’s way of remaining anonymous” (as opposed to everything else he does to remain anonymous, like being invisible and silent and imaginary). In the land of religion, there are no coincidences!

4. Both cause each other

Maybe there’s some sort of physical law linking both, like “Joel’s Law of Murder and Baptism”: M = sB + G, where s represents sunspots, and G represents god’s wrath. If this were the case, increasing the murder rate would necessarily increase baptisms too.

Clearly there is room for further research here. Nonetheless, my preliminary Sunday-morning social science makes one thing clear: Baptism kills!

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