This week in New Orleans, La., delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention made history by electing the Rev. Fred Lute as the first African-American pastor in their long history to serve as their president. Luter, the charismatic pastor of a New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward mega-church, ran unopposed.
Much has been made about how this election helps Southern Baptists distance them from their 1845 birth in support of slavery. Actually, Southern Baptists have been distancing themselves from this past for decades, including apologizing for their stand on slavery at their 1995 convention.
Luter's election is one more step towards an increasing embrace of diversity. The election of one person to a position of power does not change everything, but as Luter said, "Everybody has a past. It's time to move on."
THE GEORGIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF CONSUMER PROTECTION AND THE POOR: Mr. John Sours, chief administrator of Gov. Deal's Office of Consumer Protection, spoke to my Rotary Club about how this agency protects the poor, elderly and under-educated from debt collection and consolidation agencies that I would characterize as despicable predators.
I had no idea how many "businesses" there are whose main goal is to get rich by ripping off those who are already in debt and have no clear idea how to manage their misfortune.
These scams, threats and come-ons are scandalous and almost impossible to squash. Mr. Sours explained how these unscrupulous businesses operate and how the state prosecutes and, in some cases, imprisons those who are the most egregious criminals.
As I listened, I had two reactions:
First, we are too quick to decry government agencies and bureaucracies. The common cry seems to be, "Get government off my back." But here is an example -- and there are many others -- when government tries to care for and protect those who cannot always defend themselves in a free market.
My second reaction is that such protection is one responsibility of all religions: to care for the poor, the defenseless, the widow and the child. People of faith have a primary responsibility to do so; we cannot do it, however, without government help. Which church, for example, could stop this predatory trolling?
MUSIC LESSONS FOR BABIES: A recently reported study describes what happened to 34 infants (ages 6-12 months) who participated in a six-month study involving the effects of music.
Half the group listened to classical music daily while they played. The other half was led in singing, movement and playing percussion instruments.
At the end of the six months, the latter group showed strong musical preferences to Western musical structure, had larger and earlier brain responses to piano tones than the other group and was more socially advanced and easier to soothe.
Although the sample is too small to draw universal conclusions, these results suggest strategies for religious instruction of our youngest children, both in preschools and nurseries.
Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at creedewesleymonumental.org.