{Culture, politics, religion, global interest, ethics}

Saturday, September 30, 2006

What's to get?

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost declares himself embarassed about some comments at the Washington Briefing--Falwell's declaring Hillary more divisive than Lucifer, Wellington Boone's "faggot" comments, Ann Coulter saying whatever it was that she said this time. He says he could openly denounce them, but "but they are still my fellow Christians. As much as I condemn their remarks, they are, like me, members of the body of Christ." But as far as a proper response, he says, "I got nothing." He's at an impasse as to what he should do.

Seems to me like he's done it.

They're out of line. Each of the guilty parties probably deserves more analysis than their critics will ever give. But so what? They know that they get more attention than their opposite numbers in civil argument. So if they get caught, we should be all the more suspicious that their comments as revelatory. Shame on them. They have yet to learn how to behave in public. Or even in private.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Africa's gifts to the world...

... in music, art, politics... from the Independent.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who knew?

"View of God Can Predict Values, Politics" says USA Today, summarizing the results of a broad Baylor U survey. Some highlights:
  • 91.8% believe in God. But...
  • Our ideas of God differ, from the "wrathful" and "authoritarian" God most prevalent in the Bible belt to the "critical", "distant", or"benevolent" views of God somewhat more prevalent elsewhere. [only four?]
  • These differences play out in political stances. Amazingly, believers in a God that is actively involved in the affairs of our lives AND that punishes the sinful are more likely (74.5%) to say that the federal government "should advocate Christian values" than the population as a whole (45.6%).
Says Baylor sociologist Christopher Bader, "[Y]ou learn more about people's moral and political behavior if you know their image of God than almost any other measure. It turns out to be more powerful a predictor of social and political views than the usual markers of church attendance or belief in the Bible."

It's almost as if, as a theologian once said, the most important thing about a person is what comes to mind when s/he conceives of "God."

This just in: "Ultimate commitments affect life!"

Many, including Rush Limbaugh, have noted the Sam Harris's concession here that fellow libs have their head in the sand with respect to the threat of militant Islam. Okaaaay.... Then this:
The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world's Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam.
Think of it. Religion actually affecting how people view their live. Let's forget that (thoughtful) philosophical liberals view all political and moral questions in terms of their liberal commitments. The question is, can we find a way to live together peaceably? With respect to those times and places in which Muslims have political power, we're still looking for a clear answer.

Call me intolerant, will you?!

"... Islam always reacts to western allegations that it is not a peaceful religion by mass outbreaks of vituperation, denunciation and acts of jihadic violence.

"That this is a paradox seems not to be even remotely recognised by many Muslims. Commenting on the Pope’s speech, Tasnim Aslam, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, came out with this little piece of doublethink beauty: 'Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.'" London Times

"Paradox"? How 'bout "being in collective denial"?

A big wall in China

The immense obstacles to the realization of human rights in China remain high and wide and visible from the other side of the globe. Chen Guangcheng, an opponent of forced abortions -- and a blind man -- has been grievously abused in his efforts to receive justice.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Benedict and Scotus

Benedict XVI's speech at the University of Regensburg has special interest for me. The comments about Islam have people pulling the fire alarm, both Muslims and the left-leaning. More on that later. The deeper question is this: is God bound by reason? Is morality directed toward human flourishing a metaphysical necessity of some kind? Could God have willed other than God has in fact willed? Benedict, following many other Catholics, seem to think that Aquinas's Aristotelianism set the boundaries of rational thought, and traces our current woes back through the Reformers to Scotus.

These questions happen to be the subject of a recent doctoral thesis.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Help to Africa has to be done in the right way. ROGER SANDALL, reviewing Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari describes the alternative: "A deep dependency has taken root. The prevailing attitude is that if someone will come all the way from Scotland to sweep the floor, why not let them?"
Ditto for any number of short- or long-term missionary projects.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wimmin at War - Review - Times Online

Fear of a backlash was no reason for shrinking from the fight. "The backlash against women is real. This is the book [Backlash] we need to understand it, to struggle through the battle fatigue and to keep going." So on that basis, why are some radical feminists sympathetic with the likes of Hezbollah against Bush and Blair on the pretext that they are "creating more terrorists? asks Sarah Baxter.

The Chronicle: 6/9/2006: The Last Judicial Idealist?

Ronald Dworkin is a "vicarian," a thinker who expends "mental energy dissecting what another type of person does," says Carlin Romano in the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Still the greatest story ever told

From a Guardian review by Nicholas Lezard of Whose Bible Is It? A History of the Scriptures Through the Ages
by Jaroslav Pelikan"There is enough in here to have Bible-belt pea-brains howling for his head and shovelling copies of his book on to a bonfire."
Making fundamentalists morally equivalent never needs justification.

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Excuse After Excuse

Victor David Hanson on the supposedly anti-Muslim bias of the US: "...without the United States, Kuwait would be the 19th province of Iraq, the Taliban would rule Afghanistan, Saddam and his sons would still slaughter Kurds and there might not be any Muslims left at all in Kosovo or Bosnia."

RealClearPolitics - Articles - The Left and Crime: Part II

RealClearPolitics - Articles - The Left and Crime: Part II: "If the choice between policy A and policy B is regarded as a badge of personal merit, either morally or intellectually, then it is a devastating risk to one's sense of self to make empirical evidence the ultimate test."

Sowell's thought here builds on something Krauthammer once wrote: conservatives think that liberals are stupid; liberals think that conservatives are evil.

The Islamic Way of War

The Islamic Way of War: "What the Islamic Way of War does mean to both Israel and to the United States is this: the Arabs now possess—and know that they possess—the capacity to deny us victory, especially in any altercation that occurs on their own turf and among their own people. To put it another way, neither Israel nor the United States today possesses anything like the military muscle needed to impose its will on the various governments, nation-states, factions, and political movements that comprise our list of enemies. "

Monday, June 06, 2005

Secular or sacred?

Os Guiness offers an enlightening review of a new book, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide in The Wilson Quarterly.