Archived Posts May 2005 - Page 5 of 12 | Acton PowerBlog

From the “biting the hand that feeds you” department:

Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin today launched an attack on his record label EMI and the company’s shareholders.

It came after EMI, the world’s third-largest music company, warned that profits would be lower because the band took longer than expected to finish their first studio album in three years.

But as Coldplay prepared for a concert in New York to promote their new album, called X&Y, Martin said: “I don’t really care about EMI. I’m not really concerned about that.

“I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world.”

Celebrities have been know to utter things that could charitably be called unintelligent, but this may take the cake. It’s of particular interest in this instance to see that Martin has moved beyond the standard attack on the “evil corporation,” and has instead decided to level an attack on those individuals who would invest in a company’s stock.

Martin told reporters at Manhattan’s Beacon Theatre that the band was uncomfortable that they sell so many albums they can affect a major corporation’s stock price.

“It’s very strange for us that we spent 18 months in the studio just trying to make songs that make us feel a certain way and then suddenly become part of this corporate machine,” Martin said backstage.

He criticised what he called “the slavery that we are all under to shareholders”. However, having sold 20 million albums worldwide to date, their album release on 7 June and subsequent two-month tour of America in August and September will play a large role in determining EMI’s profits

Poor Chris. It’s pretty clear that he and his bandmates have been taken advantage of by a corporation that has provided them with nothing in return (excepting, of course, international fame, unimaginable wealth, and of course the mechanism to allow millions of people to become fans of their music – but who’s keeping track, anyway?). And it certainly is a burden akin to slavery to be asked to be responsible in your use of other people’s money.

I will admit that I feel a twinge of guilt over the fact that I have pre-ordered the new Coldplay album from the iTunes Music Store, and as a result have padded the wallets of the evil shareholders of Apple Computer. No doubt it was those shareholders and not the members of the band who decided to add a premium of two bonus songs with every pre-order in order to trick people like me into supporting their evil ways. But the root of the matter is this: by purchasing Coldplay’s new album, I have put money in the pockets of corporations and their shareholders, and am thus guilty of supporting “the great evil of this modern world.” Rest assurred: if I can find a way to extricate myself from this awful situation by returning the album, I will do so. And I would suggest to those of you who have yet to purchase Coldplay’s new album: Resist! To do so would be to support evil.

This article is a must-read for anyone interested in the recent history of American evangelicalism:

For a movement that began its modern life among the Calvinists, the sometimes strong critique evangelicalism has received in the past decade from its own Calvinist caucus cannot be dismissed lightly. While most of these Calvinist voices have not distanced themselves from the movement they helped create, their accusations of doctrinal declension, human-centered worship and idolatrous narcissism stand in sharp contrast to the more upbeat boosterism found in a movement that has witnessed a remarkable resurgence in the modern era.

From “Evangelicalism’s Insecure Calvinists: The Proliferation of the Evangelical Self-Critique Book at the End of the Twentieth Century,” by Gregory Johnson

This article from The Christian Post relates the warnings of Martin Oca༚, professor at the Baptist Seminary of South Peru, about the increasing attraction of prosperity theology in Latin America. According to Oca༚, prosperity theology (PT) teaches that,

material prosperity is the greatest evidence of God’s blessing. However…such prosperity is not for everyone but rather for those who are faithful to God and keep His spiritual laws.

He also says PT teaches that material prosperity is given to Christians so they can enjoy it on earth, since one has to accustom oneself on earth to a lifestyle that will be eternal and even greater in heaven.

Oca༚ also cites the origin of PT in the U.S., and contends that it is being exported to Latin America after it “emerged in society and politics unhindered and promoted by evangelical ministries in the United States.”

Signs of prosperity theology have emerged elsewhere, including Africa. Is the gospel of prosperity going to be the theological legacy of North American churches? There is mounting evidence that if it not to be the case, we will have to clean up the root causes of this false gospel in our own backyard.

Jesus’ words to the church in Laodicea seem appropriate (Rev. 2:14-22 NIV)—

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

In the hurly-burly of the last few months, I had missed the release of the new critical edition of Dietrich Bonheoffer’s Ethics, the latest in the massive Augsburg Fortress project, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works.

My notification came via the International Bonhoeffer Society’s newsletter, which arrived yesterday. Rest assured that I purchased my copy today and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.

In a profile of Mike Gerson, an evangelical Christian and chief speechwriter for President Bush, Karl Rove summarized Gerson’s contributions thusly: “You can count on Mike to ask how a given policy will affect the least among us,” Rove said in an interview. “The shorthand, political way to say it is that Mike is the one always wondering how we can achieve liberal goals with conservative means.”

Of course this the “political way” to get at it, but Rove’s expression points to how an authentically Christian view of politics must transcend partisan agendas and political ideology.

This excellently written profile goes on to describe the backgrounds of Gerson’s life, including an interest in Catholic Social Thought:

“Catholics have long believed that the state has a role to play in alleviating poverty, but that this is not necessarily a role it plays directly,” says Catholic scholar Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “What has happened in the U.S. is that Protestants have embraced this — first with school vouchers, and later with prison outreach, poverty, and other issues. It’s a growing alliance between Protestants and Catholics to help the less fortunate, and Mike Gerson is at the intersection of these two traditions coming together.”

Why do so many protestors in the anti-globalization movement seem to have such a big appetite for the products of companies such as Nokia, Seiko, Nissan, Volvo, Toshiba, and the like? Maybe it’s because, as Anthony Bradley writes, their paternalistic views about the poor and the developing world blind them to the reality of the global economy.

Bradley uses Japan as an example of how international trade can boost a relatively weak economy and speed up the process of becoming an advanced nation. Bradley writes:

This is exactly what happened when Japan connected its economy to the rest of the world. Japan’s isolation from the West rendered it technologically and economically weedy. After opening trade with the West in 1854, Japanese leaders and scholars of the Meiji era studied the United States and its key formative figures like Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin. In the span of three generations, Japan went from an isolated, agrarian economy, to the second largest economy in the world—on an island with relatively few natural resources.

Read the full text here.

Here’s a list of the current members of the President’s Council on Bioethics, whose interest area is sure to become more and more important in coming years, courtesy The Thing Is.