Thursday, December 30, 2004

Stinginess Watch

This site has a list of the contributions of all donor nations and organizations on record as having pledged disaster relief to nations hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Two things are noteworthy: All the oil-besotted Muslim nations combined (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and U.A.E.)will send to their Islamic brethren a little more than half of what Australia, England, or the United States have pledged individually, and France's contribution is not much more than the value of my house.

Indian Ocean Tsunami Animation

Go here for animation of the propagation of the tsunami across the Indian Ocean and other information on the catastrophe. Thanks to Belmont Club for the tip.

Meanwhile Keith Olberman at MSNBC is determined to find some way to make the administration look bad in this terrible event. The man is obsessed with blaming someone, preferably Republicans, for every bad thing, whether great or small, that happens in the world. We expect him to announce soon that there is evidence that the earthquake was most certainly a result of Bush's environmental indifference, and that there is no reason not to think that Halliburton played some nefarious role.

Barna's Year-End Review

The Barna Group, a Christian polling organization, has compiled a summary of their findings for the year 2004. Their results are very interesting:

After a year of interviewing thousands of adults, ministers, and young people, many insights into the spiritual contours of Americans emerged from the studies conducted by The Barna Group. In his annual yearend summary of some of the highlights and lowlights from his company's research, cultural analyst George Barna noted that there is reason to be encouraged - and concerned.

Reflecting on the more than 10,000 interviews his firm completed during 2004, Barna identified some of the outcomes he felt were most noteworthy. Those facts were divided into four types: the most encouraging outcomes, the most surprising findings, the most disappointing revelations, and the most significant challenges.

Here are just a few of their findings. Explanations of these and the rest of their results can be found at the link:

America's youngest pastors are more aware of, and responsive to, the battle for the minds and hearts of children than are the older pastors.

Half of all born again adults have endeavored to share their faith in Christ with a non-believer in the past year. Although a large share of those efforts are indirect - such as "lifestyle evangelism" - and few believers are aware of anyone accepting Christ as a result of their efforts, there is a veritable army of Christians who understand and accept the importance of bringing the good news to the world.

For many years, the long-term commitment to Christ by people who were saved as children has been questioned. A national survey revealed, however, that people who embrace Christ before the age of 13 are more likely to remain absolutely committed to Christ in their adult years than are people who accept Christ in their teenage or adult years.

Faith has had a limited affect on people's behavior, whether related to moral convictions and practices, relational activities, lifestyle choices or economic practices. Evangelical Christians, who are just 7% of the national population and less than 10% of those who consider themselves to be Christian, are the exception.

Just half of all Protestant Senior Pastors (51%) meet the criteria for having a biblical worldview. The criteria are believing that God is the all-knowing and all-powerful creator of the universe who still rules it today; that Jesus Christ never sinned; that Satan is real; that salvation is received through faith in Christ, not by good deeds; that every follower of Christ has a responsibility to share their faith with non-believers; that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; that absolute moral truth exists; and that absolute moral truth is described in the Bible.

Only 8% of teenagers consider music piracy - defined as copying their CDs for friends and making unauthorized downloads of music from the Internet - to be morally wrong.

There seems to be a consistent degree of attrition of men from the Christian faith. The numbers of men who are unchurched is rising, while the numbers of men who are "deeply spiritual" and those who possess an active faith (attend church, pray and read the Bible during the week) is declining.

People who accept Christ as their savior when they are adults are less likely to embrace biblical theology than are those who accept Christ when they are children.

Female pastors are substantially different in their theological beliefs than are male pastors. They tend to be much more liberal in their views, are less likely to have a biblical worldview, are less likely to be born again, and more likely to have been divorced.

Four out of ten adults have seen a movie in the past two years that has caused them to think more seriously about their faith. As the mass media and customized media capture an increasing share of people's attention, Christians are challenged to figure out how to harness or address the power of such communication vehicles for the advancement of Christianity.

Read the whole report, especially if you're interested in the state of the Christian church and faith in America.