Living in Community is Hard, Beautiful Work

"Community" is one of those words that, when not used in conjunction with a certain TV show that really needs to come back on the air soon, usually causes me to roll my eyes whenever I hear it. And I hear it a lot in Christian circles.It's a lovely concept, this idea of living and sharing life together as a body (to use Christian terminology). But it's often a concept that we only pay lip service to. We extol its virtues... and then we move on to something else. Because real community … [Read more...]

Ethical Dilemmas Arise When You Turn Science Fiction into Reality

Once again, something that was formerly in the domain of science fiction has crossed the line over into reality. But in this case, that's not the only line that has been crossed.NPR recently reported that geneticists at the Oregon Health & Science University had created an embryo containing genetic material from three individuals as part of research aimed at curing genetic diseases caused by defective mitochondrial DNA. The geneticists located the bad DNA in unfertilized eggs, replaced it … [Read more...]

Ann Coulter’s Use of ‘Retard’: A Perfect Example of Thoughtless Speech

During the presidential debate earlier this week, conservative pundit and provocateur Ann Coulter tweeted the following: I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard. Not surprisingly, her use of the word "retard" garnered plenty of criticism, including some from fellow conservative Michelle Malkin, who tweeted in response: "What a stupid, shallow thing to say, Ann."One of the more interesting and pointed responses to Coulter's tweet came in the form of an open … [Read more...]

Did Apple Really Just Screw Over iPad Owners?

Earlier this week, Apple held an event during which they announced several new and updated products, including a smaller iPad, thinner and sleeker iMacs, and a new high-end laptop. Needless to say, these announcements got plenty of people excited, including yours truly, as the months -- and even years -- of anticipation, rumors, and analysis come to a head and revealed a slew of lovely new products.But as Buzzfeed reports, there were some people who were disappointed, even angered by Apple's … [Read more...]

Dalrymple’s Rules of Debate Interpretation

Our Patheos colleague Timothy Dalrymple has posted a list of ten rules regarding interpreting the results of a presidential debate. For example: 1. Television pundits, in the immediate aftermath of the debate, are the worst possible guides to understanding the debate and how it will shape the electoral landscape. It’s just another spin room, except the allegiances and antipathies, the man-crushes and job tryouts are concealed.4. Candidates aren’t out to “win” the debate. They’re out to win t … [Read more...]

Should Nature Have the Same Rights as Humans?

Earlier this year, the New Zealand government bestowed the legal standing of personhood on the Whanganui River, granting it all of the same rights as a person in legal matters. This isn't the first time that a country has done something like this: in 2008, Ecuador voted to give its rivers, forests, islands and even its air "similar legal rights to those normally granted to humans", agreeing that "Natural communities and ecosystems possess the unalienable right to exist, flourish and evolve … [Read more...]

Teaching Children a Healthy View of the Human Body

The American Conservative's Rod Dreher is currently traveling through France and blogging about his experiences there. One of his most recent entries chronicles his family's visit to The Louvre, and discusses the challenges that all of the artistic nudity on display present when you've been trying to instill in your children the value of modesty. He writes: [W]e explain to them that the human body is beautiful, and that the art they’re seeing was created to explore the beauty of the human form. … [Read more...]

Reality TV: Making Western Civilization Smarter and Better?

I hate reality TV. Yes, there may be some "reality" shows with redeeming values, but on the whole, I find it represents a nadir of entertainment. It encourages and celebrates narcissistic, sociopathic, and unconscionable behavior in its subjects, and through shrewd manipulation (i.e., editing), makes it easy for viewers to develop a sense of smug self-righteousness as we watch the drama unfold before us.But not everyone agrees with me. For example, anthropologist Grant McCracken believes th … [Read more...]

Science Fiction and Theology: A Match Made in Heaven?

Science fiction can be more than just stories about big-headed aliens, evil robots, and laser guns. It can probe complex and provocative theological ideas, or so claim the theologians interviewed in a recent io9 article titled "Big Theological Questions that Science Fiction Should Answer".The article's author, Charlie Jane Anders, interviewed several theologians who also happen to be sci-fi nerds, including Lorenzo DiTommaso, Robert Geraci, and James McGrath. The reason for this interest in s … [Read more...]

To Catch A Predditor: Reddit, Gawker, and the Challenge of Online Privacy

Reddit describes itself as "the front page of the internet", a statement that seems to be growing truer all the time. The site has become increasingly popular -- it's estimated that the site receives as many as 30 million unique visitors a month -- and it has garnered an immense amount of cultural capital. On August 29, 2012, President Obama went on Reddit and did a live Q&A (or "AMA", for "Ask Me Anything" session in Reddit-speak) that had more than 4 million visits in a 24-hour span, and … [Read more...]