Wednesday, July 22, 2009


News comes from South Africa that people in the "townships" are restless at what they perceive is President Jacob Zuma's failure to deliver basic services to them, which for those of us in the U.S. means essentials like electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing. Such promises formed a a cornerstone of his campaign and though he's been in office for less than 100 days (I believe), some people are beginning to express their frustration. The result is that some protests have arisen and some have turned modestly violent.


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It's easy for a westerner to think that these kinds of reports are Africa. They're not--or they're not all (just like here in the States). Africa is an amazing place that continually unfolds itself in unexpected to a westerner like me. To begin to get a feel for it, I highly recommend Richard Dowden, Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles, which was recommended to me by my good friend Wilhelm Weber. See There is a review of the book here, but this is a volume that is worth the investment to read carefully.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just to Keep Things Straight...

Hours of Fun!

The Map Gallery of Religion in the United States housed at is the stuff of dreams for map nerds. This is made for hours of fun as the map reader immerses him or herself in the data and, more importantly, the "why" of the distribution of various traditions represented in the various maps. Enjoy!

Here is the page's description:

Map Gallery of Religion in the United States

The U.S. Census Bureau, due to issues related to the separation of church and state, does not ask questions related to faith or religion on the decennial census. Accordingly, there are few sources of comprehensive data on church membership and religious affiliation for the United States. Perhaps the leading organization to address this gap is the Glenmary Research Center, which publishes Religious Congregations and Membership in the United States, 2000. The following series of county-level choropleth maps, which reveals the distribution of the larger and more regionally concentrated church bodies, draws on this resource. The maps are in GIF format.