Not too long ago, both liberals and conservatives were oriented to some kind of common social good. Liberals pushed for what they considered to be “social justice.” Conservatives emphasized patriotism and worked for cultural stability. Today, both sides frame their arguments in terms of personal liberty and individual rights (gay rights, abortion rights, reproductive freedom, etc., vs. parental rights, religious liberty, gun rights, free markets, etc.).
Is that an advance? Perhaps it is. But did you notice that when we recently discussed Iceland’s attempt to battle pornography, hardly any of us–social conservatives mostly, me included–were able to come up with any way to oppose it legally. Even as we were decrying pornography and admitting how socially harmful it is, we could only conceive of the issue in terms of first amendment rights. On another blog that discussed Iceland’s policies, someone defended pornography on the grounds that we must not interfere with free market economics, that the demand must call forth a supply.
Then I was part of a discussion of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s graduation address at Harvard University in 1978. In that talk, the exiled Russian author who spent nearly a decade in the Soviet gulag and whose dissident writings helped bring about the fall of Communism, said why he would not recommend that his country, once free, emulate the modern West. One reason he gave is that western societies have become “legalistic”; that is, our societies have replaced morality with laws. And societies cannot protect themselves with laws alone. [Read more...]
The Baltimore Ravens, of course, holding off a jaw-dropping comeback by the 49ers in an extremely thrilling game. The title of this post refers to who won the Superbowl contest sponsored by this blog by predicting the outcome. The final score was Ravens 34; 49ers 31. So the Ravens won by 3. Therefore our virtual Lombardi trophy goes to JOHN, who guessed Ravens 24-21. A margin of 3 points.
Now I myself was unable to see the game, being on the road for a speaking engagement. It seems like I am ALWAYS on the road for a speaking engagement during on Superbowl Sunday, flying back late at night and checking the TV sets in the airports to see how the game is going. This is probably the third time this happened to me in the last four years. So I missed what sounds like a really good game.
So if you want to discuss the game–or the commercials, or the blackout, or the national anthem, or the halftime show (notice how all of these other things have become part of the ritual Superbowl reflections)–comment here.
The Boy Scouts are caught between Scylla and Charybdis–or, as more of them might put it less classically, a rock and a hard place. The organization has had to deal with scandals involving gay scoutmasters and some incidents of child sexual abuse. So it tightened its standards and its scrutiny. Now the organization is under fire for being anti-gay. The organization has announced that it is reconsidering its policies banning openly gay leaders and scouts. Barton Gingerich (a former student of mine) has some inside information about what is going on. [Read more...]
The day may come when reckoning time according to the birth of Christ will give way to numbering our years according to the Roman numerals of the Superbowl. That’s basically what the ancient Greeks did when they counted their years according to what Olympiad it was. Anyway, we need to recognize our de facto national holiday, which happens on Sunday: The Superbowl. It has acquired its own rituals: assembling not with family but with friends; feasting on finger foods; watching commercials. Maybe it’s time to ask of this festival day what we ask of other holidays: What is the true meaning of Superbowl? [Read more...]