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...]

The Immodest Republic

My colleague Mark Mitchell has co-edited a new book entitled  The Culture of Immodesty in American Life and Politics: The Modest Republic.  It’s not just about women’s fashions.  From the description at Amazon:

The Culture of Immodesty in American Life and Politics is a collection of thirteen essays from a broad range of scholars and independent authors, evaluating the prevalence of immodesty in various aspects of American life and culture. Contributors diagnose immodesty through the lens of corporations that are ‘too big to fail,’ consumption inspired by excessive greed, art and fashion that lack beauty and taste, government budgets resulting in perennial deficits, and foreign policy that meddle in the affairs of other nations. Going beyond mere diagnosis of societal ills, The Culture of Immodesty in American Life and Politics provides a prescription for cultural impropriety: promoting a framework for the rejection of immodesty and greed in contemporary life.

[Read more...]

Can Christianity survive gay marriage?

Rod Dreher, a Christian writer of the Orthodox persuasion,  has written a provocative article for the American Conservative that is getting a lot of attention entitled Sex after Christianity.   He raises the question of whether Christianity can even survive once its assumptions about sexual morality are jettisoned.  The short answer is, of course Christianity will survive.  The gates of hell cannot prevail against it, let alone sexual transgressions.  Missing in this discussion is that Christianity is about Christ, the Gospel, and the forgiveness of sins, not establishing a particular kind of cultural influence.  Nevertheless, Dreher documents a “cosmological” shift that may well diminish the cultural presence of Christianity.  Still, read this article.  We’ve got to talk about it.  Read the whole article, but I’ll post excerpts after the jump.  (And see my thoughts at the end.) [Read more...]

How to interrogate a terrorist

Interesting piece from the BBC about how the FBI conducts interrogations of terrorist suspects.  And it doesn’t involve torture. [Read more...]