What is a nation?

As college classes, including my own, conclude for the Summer, I will reveal an academic secret:  professors often learn from their students.  Being an audience of one for all of those papers has its rewards.  In my Shakespeare class, several students wrote about some aspect of the emerging view of nationhood in Shakespeare’s history plays.  The nation-state, after all, was a fairly recent development in the 1590’s when Shakespeare wrote his histories, with England transitioning from the feudal system, with its personal loyalties to local lords, to a highly-organized central government commanding citizens with a strong sense of their “Englishness.”

But, as Shakespeare’s plays suggest, there are different understandings of what constitutes a nation:  (1)  a geographical locality; that is, a land, a place (“this sceptered isle”);  (2)  a people  (“we band of brothers”); (3) a government; that is, a sovereignty embodied in the monarch (“Henry V”);  (4) a distinctive spirit or ideology (not so evident in Shakespeare, except for perhaps hints of English liberties and differences with France).

It occurred to me that these same different views of nationhood are still with us today and that we Americans have not really arrived at a consensus about it, resulting in some of our confusions.  [Read more…]

IRS targeted conservatives

The IRS targeted conservative organizations–and admits it!  And is now apologizing for it!  Investigations are underway.  This is an egregious case of the abuse of governmental power and may turn into a major scandal.  From the Associated Press:

The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.

Organizations were singled out because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.

In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said. [Read more…]

This new commenting system

As you have seen, the new “Disqus” commenting system being implemented on all Patheos blogs that I said was coming has gone into effect.  I’m still figuring it out myself.  One thing I learned:  “Disqus” is pronounced “discuss.”  (Get it? I know, I know. . . )  Here are a few features that might have benefits for our discussions on this particular blog: [Read more…]

Camouflage

As an example of how government spending mushrooms due to unnecessary duplication, bureaucratic turf protection, and lack of assessment, consider the varieties of camouflage the military has been using for uniforms over the past decade.  (For the ten patterns, go here.)  The story about this in the Washington Post is quite instructive and might make you indignant at the waste of money it chronicles, but it also has its hilarious moments, which I have put in bold print for your convenience after the jump. [Read more…]

Benghazi whistleblowers

Three diplomats on the scene in Libya when Islamists killed the American ambassador and torched the embassy facility in Benghazi testified before a Congressional committee that the official State Department account of the incident is not exactly correct.  The three also told of pressure they received not to tell the whole story. [Read more…]

Classical Lutheran Education conference

The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education (CCLE) will hold its annual conference at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, on July 16-18.  I’ll be there!  The conference will kick off a teacher certification program and will feature extended teacher-training seminars just for that purpose, in addition to sessions on all kinds of topics.  (See them after the jump.)

For more details and to register, go here. [Read more…]


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