Several recent news items testify to the truth of Qoheleth’s complaint that “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
The continuing panic on Wall Street may reflect the oldest news of all: with seven straight days of losses (six by triple digits), the market closed Oct. 9 a full 39 percent below a year ago, when it reached a record high. Professional money managers may have lots of economic savvy, complicated charts and computerized prognosticators, but none of those can stand up to a full-fledged panic. Rationality has gone out the window on Wall Street almost as fully as it did during the halcyon days of the housing/mortgage bubble: if everyone else is getting in — or getting out — then we’d best do the same.
We like to think we’re a civilized people, but let there be lines at the gas pumps, bad economic news, or rumors of a bomb, and we’ll stampede all over each other like a herd of wildebeest spooked by a sharp-toothed predator. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
It’s also sad — but also old news — that this year’s political campaigns are spending gajillions of dollars on misleading, deceptive, and outright false advertising — and no one is held accountable for spreading outright lies about their opponent. Neither presidential campaign is innocent, but once again, Republicans are way ahead in the “liar, liar, pants on fire” category, according to fact-checker PolitiFact.com. When you see a candidate adding the tagline “I’m so-and-so, and I approved of this message” right after a big hairy Swiftboat-style lie, it says something about a candidate’s integrity. But, many people scare easily and will believe anything, and unscrupulous politicos use that to their advantage.
As with the economic situation, I yearn for a return to rational thinking, and I long for a law that would create consequences for those who knowingly distort the truth in their political advertising. If nothing else, I wish candidates and supporters who claim to follow God would give some attention to the ninth commandment.
In other old news, we are reminded that younger evangelicals differ from their elders on a number of points, including their attitudes toward gays and gay rights. Keep an eye on this, because it could have a significant impact on the future of many churches. It’s nothing new for young adults to desert the faith of their fathers and mothers, but shifting attitudes toward homosexuality are escalating, and likely to intensify that trend. Younger adults are more likely to have gay friends, to defend them when they face rejection or ostracism from the church, and to follow them out the door if they are singled out for condemnation.
One last bit — Bob Allen, new news editor for Associated Baptist Press, has provided a helpful summary of a new book about Southern Baptist women. Written by former Southern Baptist Susan Shaw and based on 150 interviews, the book (God Speaks to Us, Too: Southern Baptist Women on Church, Home & Society) reveals that women in Southern Baptist life exercise influence far beyond what the Convention’s doctinal statement would suggest. Though many women outwardly accept the submissive role assigned to them at home and in church, the truth is that they wield considerable clout in both places, and aren’t afraid to use it.
Is anyone surprised by that?
That’s one bit of old news, at least, for which I’m grateful.