Micah Watson, Assistant Professor of Political Science & Director, Center for Religion and Politics
Apr 23, 2012 - Charles Colson passed away this last Saturday, April 21st. Remembrances and tributes are still being made, as is appropriate. He was a tremendous figure, and his work for the Lord, his impact on the church and how Christians should live and think, and his service to the least of these as well as his country cannot be measured and will not be replicated.
He had a special relationship with Union University, and he also had a particular impact on politics. Ultimately, he didn't have this impact as he once would have envisioned. As an important aide to Richard Nixon, the pre-conversion Charles Colson must have thought he had "made it" and would be doing great things for his country...read more
The Prevalence of Porn
May 7, 2010 - It caught the corner of my eye as I left the gas station. It was that regrettably familiar symbol that Hugh Hefner had been making famous since founding his magazine in 1953. No, I hadn’t noticed a magazine rack with brown paper covers behind the cash register. What jumped out to me was the Playboy bunny icon plastered all over a high-energy drink next to the other brands like Monster and Full Throttle.
This was an odd thing to see. Perhaps it’s my old-fashioned upbringing, but the connection between the magazine and the ginseng and caffeine-soaked energy drink ...read more
Scott Brown's Win
Jan 25, 2010 - This column appeared in the Jackson Sun on January 22nd, 2010.
One of the small pleasures of following politics is that occasionally there are genuine surprises. To be sure, with a 24-hour news cycle, paid spinmeisters for both parties and an avalanche of newspaper and Internet punditry, the same political event can be hyped up, toned down, dismissed, buried, celebrated, twisted or ignored completely, depending on the source. And so it will be with the latest political bombshell that hit the nation Tuesday with Republican Scott Brown defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts senatorial special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy.
As the national media a...read more
Christmas Has a Dark Side
Dec 18, 2009 - There has always been a darker side to Christmas. Simeon warned Mary that her son would cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, and that a sword would pierce her soul. Joseph and Mary's furtive escape to Egypt wasn't recreational in nature.
Think for a moment about the carrying out of Herod's order to kill every male child under 2 years old in the vicinity of Bethlehem. It should be no less horrific merely because so many centuries have passed and the story is so familiar to us.
The familiarity is a problem. It was not all angels singing to shepherds, guiding stars, wise men bearing gifts and a newborn cuddled safely with his mother and father. Those things are also par...read more
Assumptions Hinder Civil Debate
Oct 9, 2009 - Ezekiel Bulver, a 5-year old boy, sat at his breakfast table listening to his parents. His father, scribbling diagrams on a sheet of paper, was insisting to his mother that any two sides of a triangle will always be longer together than the third side by itself.
Mrs. Bulver's response struck young Ezekiel like a lightning bolt, "Oh, you say that because you are a man."
Looking back on this event as an adult, Bulver described his great discovery: "At that moment there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error,...read more
Villanova and Pro-Life Basketball
Apr 2, 2009 - Check out this story about Scottie Reynolds, Villanova's star guard. Reynolds was a freshman when I taught for a year at Villanova, though alas I didn't have him in one of my courses. Reynolds' story illustrates what, at bottom, everyone knows about abortion:it not only takes a human life but in doing so cuts short the incredible possibilities that accompany any human life. Thank God for the young woman who chose life and adoption years ago.
BOSTON -- The unbelievable story of Scottie Reynolds begins some years ago with a decision ma...read more
Obama, Abortion, and the Promise of Racial Equality
Feb 1, 2009 - Prior to the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, many people believed (or feared) that racism remained so widespread in America that no African-American could be elected to national office. That hypothesis has been falsified. It is not that our country is free of racists (or anti-Semites, or anti-Catholics, or other bigots). Racist views, however, have been stigmatized and people holding such views have been marginalized. The overwhelming majority of whites today are prepared to vote for a black candidate for any office. The overwhelming majority of whites who voted for John McCain over Obama did so not because of Obama’s race, but because they disagreed with...read more
Father Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009
Jan 8, 2009 - Father Richard John Neuhaus died this morning.There will be a great deal of commentary, praise, and appreciation expressed throughout the blogosphere and beyond in the days to come and this is as it should be. Justin Taylor has a helpful timeline of Fr. Neuhaus' life here. You can learn a great deal more about him and peruse his writings here.
For those of you not familiar with Fr. Neuhaus, he was a Catholic priest who converted from Lutheranism. He is best known for spearheading the journal read more
Israel and Hamas
Dec 30, 2008 - Aristotle located the virtues as laying between two extremes. C.S. Lewis, an Aristotelian when it came to ethics, wrote that the devil sends errors into the world in pairs. While not a virtue exactly, the correct position on the current intensification of Israel’s conflict with Hamas also lies between two errors.
The first error is largely found in some quarters in the United States and Israel and is that Israel can and must do “anything” to survive. “By any means necessary” is another phrase that evokes this realist view that normal moral concerns are fine for ...read more
The Conservative breakup?
Nov 7, 2008 - Political soul searching is the norm for political parties who get their hats handed to them in an election. This is doubly so for conservatives and Republicans following two consecutive elections in which Democrats ran better campaigns and connected better with more people.
Recriminations have already begun on the right and it will be very interesting to watch how the various constituencies jostle each other in placing blame and jockeying for position for elections to come. And it's gotten rather ugly rather quickly as evidenced by the anonymous and in my view ridiculous sniping about Sarah P...read more
Obama and Abortion
Oct 15, 2008 - The following pieces address the 2008 election and abortion. I will not pretend to be a neutral bystander on the issue. My position is very much in lock step with my graduate school mentor, and he makes his case here. Suffice it to say I think it's a must-read.
You can read the other side at this website here. And you can read someone who desperately wants to take the other side but doesn't seem to have the intestinal fortitude to say so outloud, read more
And now for some good news . . .
Oct 13, 2008 - It is important to remind ourselves at times like these that not everything is about politics. And if you are, like myself, occasionally given over to bouts of cynicism, reminders that genuinely good things happen from time to time are crucial.
With that, I give you this story about a remarkable homecoming queen in Texas . . .
A break from politics . . . or is it?
How Not to Think about the Israeli-Hamas Conflict
Sep 30, 2008 - Aristotle located the virtues as laying between two extremes. C.S. Lewis, an Aristotelian when it came to ethics, wrote that the devil sends errors into the world in pairs. While not a virtue exactly, the correct position on the current intensification of Israel’s conflict with Hamas also lies between two errors.
The first error is largely found in some quarters in the United States and Israel and is that Israel can and must do “an...read more
John McCain and Civil Religion
Sep 5, 2008 - A few months ago I commented on the quasi-religious nature of some of Obama's enthusiastic supporters. Since that time the McCain campaign has skillfully poked and prodded that aspect of the Obama candidacy through the celebrity ads and in some of the GOP speeches.
But last night while watching McCain's speech another thought hit me and to be fair I think I need to address an aspect of McCain's candidacy that, I believe, should give Christians of all political persuasions pause.
As I wrote in a recent post, one of the temptations we can fall into as Christians is a blurring of our national and religious identities. We can sometimes forget the distinction Jesus articula...read more
Is God a Republican or a Democrat? (maybe Green?)
Sep 2, 2008 - There’s a story about Abraham Lincoln being approached during the Civil War and asked whether he thought God was on “our side” or the other side. Lincoln responded, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
Jim Wallis’ organization put out a bumpersticker a while back that you can see from time to time. It has “God is not a Republican” in big block letters, and underneath, in smaller letters, we learn that God is not a Democrat either. The rationale behind the bumpersticker is fairly plain and a favorite argument of Wallis: the religious right has hijacked religion for its own purposes and responsible Chri...read more
Excellent Review of Religious Issues and 2008 Election
Sep 1, 2008 - If you're looking for a comprehensive guide to how religion has played a role in this presidential election, I recommend this article
in the New Yorker. I would quibble with a sentence or two, but overall it provides an excellent summary of how both parties have attempted to woo religious voters.
Mar 6, 2008 - There have been several pieces written about the religious-like fervor of some Obama supporters. I'd link to some of them but why should I bother when I can direct you to youtube to see for yourself?
I'll be so bold as to suggest that we should be wary of this sort of adulation for a political figure, regardless of party. That old line about giving unto Caesar what is Caesar's come to mind . . .
Hoops, Abortion, and the Catholic Church
Jan 23, 2008 - Why is ESPN.com reporting on a story about the Catholic church and abortion?
It seems that Rick Majerus, a well-known and highly successful basketball coach and analyst, attended a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and during a television interview expressed his support for abortion rights.
Why should this be a concern? After all, Majerus is just expressing his political opinion and being involved in the public arena, something necessary for the health of democratic politics.
The story arises in Majerus currently coaches for St. Louis University, a Jesuit school unde...read more
The Dangerous Mix of Politics, Religion, and Sleeping
Jan 21, 2008 - While my colleagues have offered substantive posts in their inaugural blog entries, I give you something much less substantive, but rather entertaining in its own right.
Behold, the dangers of sitting up front on a Sunday morning when you need, say, a little nap.