Baptist Seminary Offers Homemaking Major

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It's not that men and women aren't equals, the professors and students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary explain to the Los Angeles Times. God has just given them different responsibilities in life: Men make decisions; women make dinner.

Starting this fall, the women enrolled in the internationally known seminary - one of the largest institutions serving the largest denomination of Protestants in America - will have a chance to get an academic degree in their special, God-given role.

The academic program includes lectures on laundering stubborn stains and a lab on baking chocolate-chip cookies, as well as more philosophical courses such as "Biblical Model for the Home and Family," which teaches that God expects wives to graciously submit to their husbands' leadership.

When one student enrolled in the class admitted she sometimes resented having to change diapers while her husband had a career, she then cheered herself up by quoting Ephesians: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, to the Lord." And from Genesis: God created Eve to be a "suitable helper" for Adam.

Of course, the paper notes that more moderate Southern Baptists - including Jimmy Carter, who has left the fold - don't agree with this line of thinking, and counter with some scripture of their own. When Jesus dined at the home of two sisters, he praised Mary, who spent the evening studying his teachings, above Martha, who did chores.

But this is unlikely to be emphasized at a seminary run by Paige Patterson, known for banning women from becoming pastors or teaching men theology during his tenure as convention president in the 1990s.

"I'm personally going to teach the course in table manners," Patterson told the LA Times, moments after sneaking scraps of poached chicken off his lunch plate for his black Laborador, Noche.

Something's Rotten In Dentistry (And It's Not Just Teeth)

These are great times to be a dentist, but rotten ones to have teeth, the New York Times reports.

With dentists' fees rising far faster than inflation and more than 100 million people lacking dental insurance, the percentage of Americans with untreated cavities began rising this decade. It reverses a half-century trend of improvement in dental health, the paper reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released figures showing that in 2003 and 2004, the most recent years with data available, 27 percent of children and 29 percent of adults leave cavities untreated. It's the highest level since the late 1980s.

Unsurprisingly, the poor and lower-middle class are the ones going without care. Why? Most dentists want customers who can pay cash or have private insurance, and they do not accept Medicaid patients. As a result, publicly supported dental clinics have the kind of multiple-month waits that don't really belong in the developed world.

Worse still, state boards of dentists and the American Dental Association have fought efforts to use dental hygienists and other non-dentists to provide basic care for people who do not have access to dentists.

"Most dentists consider themselves to be in the business of dentistry rather than the practice of dentistry," said Dr. David Nash, professor of pediatric denistry at the University of Kentucky. "I'm a cynic about my profession, but the data are there. It's embarrassing."

Phoning Home, Now With A Megaphone

Today is a historic day for radio waves. Not only are they probing new realms of inner space at the Phoenix airport (which is testing out its new underwear-revealing security x-rays starting today), but they're reaching deeper into outer space than ever before with the switching on of a new array of radio telescopes in Hat Creek, Calif.

The New York Times reports that astronomers are flipping the switch today on the Allen Telescope Array -- 350 antennas, each 20 feet in diameter -- which will, among other things, "extend the search for extraterrestrial life a thousandfold."

"It's like cutting the ribbon on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria," said Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the Seti Institute in Mountain view, Calif. He added that this was the first radio telescope ever designed for the extraterrestrial quest.

The government stopped paying for this kind of thing in 1993, so rich, quixotic sci-fi geeks have been left to pick up the slack. Like Paul Allen, a founder of Microsoft who donated $25 million in seed money for the project.

"If they do find anything, they're going to call me up first and say they have a signal," Allen said. "So far, the phone hasn't rung."

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