Video: The Life of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

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I have been looking for a brief video that might serve as a good introduction to the life and times of Nelson Mandela. In particular, I was looking for something that I might share with my own kids and my future students. I really like this 12 minute biographical clip from the New York Times: Please share any thoughts, memories, or reflections in the comments below. … [Read more...]

Atheism, Relativism, and Morality #rawlsreligion

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Rawls says that atheism is one view that Bodin could not abide. For Bodin, atheism is not the the belief that God does not exist, rather it is the rejection of right and justice. Bodin, according to Rawls, believed "that people will honor right and justice only when they believe in God and fear divine punishments." (Rawls 2010, 267) This suspicion of non-believers was shared by John Locke. In his A Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke excludes atheists (and Catholics for other reasons) from … [Read more...]

Is a More Beautiful World Possible?

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I may be the problem. In his new book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, Charles Eisenstein addresses the disconnect we feel in a world that focuses on wealth and individualism. An emptiness becomes apparent as we begin to crave the community and social spirit which has fallen by the wayside in the pursuit of success, power, and wealth. Eisenstein's narrative is a familiar one to me. What he calls "separation," Marx called alienation. I think the value of what Eisenstein … [Read more...]

I am Thankful for…Monty Python’s Philosopher Football

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With the announcement of a Monty Python reunion, I thought I would share my favorite sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. Here is some Philosopher Football: Of course, in philosophy...the Germans win in a landslide. Just saying. … [Read more...]

Put The First Thanksgiving on Your Christmas List

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I loved reading The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History. It is an attempt to tell the real story of Thanksgiving in a way that draws on the methods of academic history, rather than the methods of The History Channel. After Christmas, we will see non-stop airings of documentaries about the historical Christmas and the historical Jesus. I actually enjoy this shows, but they are the donuts of historical study. Lots of mental carbohydrates, … [Read more...]

President Kennedy from Temple Square: September 26, 1963

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Less than two months before he was assassinated, President John F. Kennedy spoke in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Salt Lake Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was September 26, 1963. LDS Church President David O. McKay was a host of the event. "Of all the stories of American pioneers and settlers, none is more inspiring than the Mormon trail," said Kennedy. He goes on to point out that Mormons are an American success story, the story of a persecuted group the … [Read more...]

Nothing Romantic About It: A History of the Filibuster

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The United States Senate is grossly undemocratic...even without the filibuster. Today, the Senate moved to limit the use of the filibuster when it comes to certain presidential appointments. The filibuster is a mechanism within the United States Senate which allows a minority of Senators to continue the debate and, as a result, prevent a bill from being voted on. Like the Electoral College, I am fascinated by the filibuster as a political scientist. It is part of the twisted chess-like … [Read more...]

Las Vegas Vs. Online Gambling

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Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson is organizing (and funding) a large-scale lobbying push against online gambling. Adelson, the head of Las Vegas Sands which owns high end Las Vegas Strip properties including The Venetian and The Palazzo, is well known for being a major financial backer of Republicans and conservative causes. While Adelson is claiming that online gambling will be bad for families and communities (I agree with him on that), why would somebody who makes billions from gambling … [Read more...]

Lincoln and the Easter of Democracy: 150 Years Ago Today

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Few words are more well known. I love the speeches of Lincoln. While this speech may not be his greatest, I think that in many ways encapsulates what made Lincoln great. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. This … [Read more...]

Seven Things You Might Not Know About Me

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There is a Facebook prompt going around. If you like a status where somebody is sharing a number of things you might not know about them...they will assign you a number of things to share. Ardis at Keepapitchinin´╗┐ gave me the assignment of sharing seven things you might not know about me. Since I am turning 37 tomorrow, I will focus on some ways in which I have changed since my youth. 1. I was a Dallas Cowboys fan until I was 11. My parents point to this as an example of how I have … [Read more...]