Driscoll-Mefferd controversy. For those of you who have not been following the controversy, radio host Janet Mefferd accused megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism in an on-air interview. She then provided evidence that, pretty compellingly, showed Driscoll used significant passages from the work of others without proper attribution. Much of that documentation has found its way onto the internet, though Mefferd herself subsequently issued an apology for the interview and took down the material from her own website and Twitter feed. The questions now focus on whether Mefferd was forced to recant by the Salem Radio Network (Mefferd’s employer), Tyndale House (Driscoll’s publisher), or other megachurch pastors (who are Driscoll’s friends and who broadcast on Salem). As they say in radio, stay tuned.
Another swing. Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline asked for a rehearing of the ethics case against him this week. On Tuesday he filed a 92-page motion challenging the conclusions of the Kansas Supreme Court when it suspended his license to practice law. Kline is strongly pro-life, and some observers think his views impacted the court’s decision. According to Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, “Reading Kline’s motion for rehearing or modification brings home the injustice that continues to reverberate throughout Kansas, which has placed abortionists above the law and prosecutors under fear of enforcing the law. The court system has convicted the wrong person and let the criminals go free only to re-offend.”
Minimum wage wars. Fast-food workers around the country held a one-day strike Thursday hoping to persuade the nation to increase the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Most states have a slightly higher minimum wage. One suburb of Seattle just voted for $15 per hour. The mainstream media have been full of one-sided stories that paint a bleak picture of life for those on minimum wage, but these stories leave out much. Most minimum wage workers are unskilled or in their first jobs. For these workers, a low-wage job is a chance to grab the lowest rung on the ladder and begin the climb up. If the minimum wage is raised, these workers will be condemned to a life of dependence and poverty. Another consequence of a hike in the minimum wage will be a reduction in the number of new jobs created. Despite many good arguments against a jump in the minimum wage, the conversation continues to bubble. The most credible Democratic proposal suggests a hike to about $10 per hour.
What’s next for cities? In light of Detroit’s bankruptcy, accepted by a judge earlier this week, it’s worth asking whether the largest municipal bankruptcy in history is the “canary in the coal mine” for the fates of large American cities. Even New York City, which is widely thought to be (and in fact is, in some ways) in a renaissance, has seen very little population growth in the past decade. The truth is that large cities are 18th and 19th century phenomena. They came about because people needed to be in close proximity in order to collaborate. The 20th century, with the advent of the automobile, was the century of the suburbs. Today, people want to live in cities because of their recreational and cultural opportunities, but they don’t actually need to be there for work. As Christians, we should question any cultural, political, or economic structure that is based on play and pleasure rather than on dignity-producing work. (The collapse of the Roman Empire and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World help us understand the folly of pleasure as a culture’s organizing principle.) In short, Detroit’s bankruptcy gives us an opportunity to ask this question: What will the 21st century city look like?