Culture & pop culture

“Culture” is one of those lofty words with lots of meanings.  It can refer to a “society” with all of its institutions, values, and customs.  Or it can refer to “the arts,” as in going to the opera to soak up some culture.   Ken Meyers usefully distinguishes between folk culture (the ways and artifcats of a community with a common history), high culture (the contributions of talented individuals that go on to benefit a whole society), and pop culture (the commercialized artifacts designed to be bought and sold).

In this space, take it whichever way you want to.  Raise questions of vast social import (for instance, gay marriage), talk about music (bluegrass groups in the folk culture, or jazz artists in the high culture, or whatever) or books you are enjoying, or talk about issues of summer entertainment (was the Lone Ranger really as bad as the critics are saying?).

The Lutheran Theology of Culture

On the LCMS website, looking for an address, I saw prominently featured an article or an interview or something I didn’t even remember doing in which I very succinctly summarize the Lutheran theology of culture.  It’s rather different from other approaches, but I think it’s broadly applicable and can solve many of the problems Christians have today in figuring out how to relate to their cultures.  This will also shed light on a continual theme of this blog, so I’ll post the thing after the jump. [Read more...]

Women are main breadwinners in 40% of households

A new Pew study has found that women are the main breadwinners in 40% of American households.  Much of this is due to the rise in single-mothers, but an increasing number of wives just earn more than their husbands.  Read the details after the jump and contemplate the cultural implications. [Read more...]

Should you be able to buy a car online?

It’s illegal to buy a car direct from the factory or over the internet.  You have to go through a local dealer.  The electric car company Tesla is trying to change that.  But state and local governments are resisting.  That, arguably, goes against the free market and against the trends of the new technology.  But do we really want online commerce to kill off small businesses that are the backbone of many small town economies? [Read more...]

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...]

Our partnership with the dead, the living, and the unborn

Peter Wehner quotes British journalist Charles Moore, reviewing Jesse Norman’s new biography of the 18th century father of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke:

As his struggles for America, Ireland and Corsica showed, Burke was no automatic defender of existing authority. But what he understood, and expressed with immense rhetorical power, was how human beings stand in relation to one another. Although they are morally autonomous individuals, they do not – cannot – live in isolation. In our language, laws, institutions, religion, and in our families, we are part of a continuum.

Society is ”a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born’’. It is not society that keeps mankind in chains, but the pretence that now is the only time that matters. Almost every piece of rot you hear in politics comes from those who wish to lock man into what WH Auden called ”the prison of his days’’. It is comforting that the Burkean Jesse Norman is in the House of Commons to tell them when they are wrong.

Mr. Wehner adds his reflections:

It strikes me that this ancient insight–of how we do not live in isolation, that we are part of a continuum–has been a bit neglected by American conservatives in recent years. [Read more...]


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