The Conflict of Iconoclasts

France is holding huge rallies for free speech after the Charlie Hebdo murders, but they have arrested a comedian for his antisemitic speech.  Now the Pope, while condemning the terrorist attack, is underscoring that mocking religion is wrong in itself.  Issues of free speech are apparently more complicated than is often assumed.

Meanwhile, the sold-out new issue of the satirical magazine that was attacked makes clear its distinct ideological position, namely, a militant atheism.  The editors say how they laughed when the bells of Notre Dame would be rung in their honor, and that those who say “‘I am Charlie’ need to also know that that means, ‘I am secularism.’”  The point is, both the terrorists and their victims are iconoclasts.

After the jump, Stephen Richert, while condemning the killings and insisting that he is not blaming the victim, argues that freedom of speech is NOT the primary value of civilization and that leftist iconoclasts and Islamic iconoclasts have more in common than either of them realize. [Read more...]

When offensive speech deserves defending

Columnist Ross Douthat, a conservative Catholic, has an interesting and nuanced take on the Charlie Hebdo attacks, how purposefully offensive speech is wrong–and yet, if someone threatens to murder a person over it, that speech becomes something good, something that deserves defending. [Read more...]

Torture Report

The Senate released a report detailing the way the CIA used brutal interrogation techniques during the War on Terrorism.  The report said that not only was the torture–which included waterboarding and “rectal rehydration”–immoral, but  that it was ineffective in uncovering terrorist threats.  The CIA strongly disputes that last part. [Read more...]

My new book on the imagination

 I have published a new book, one that I collaborated on with Matt Ristuccia, an evangelical pastor in Princeton.  It’s called Imagination Redeemed:  Glorifying God with a Neglected Part of Your Mind. 

The imagination often gets mystified these days with its association with the arts and creativity.  We get into those areas in the book, but we are trying to recover a much more basic understanding of the concept.  The imagination is simply the power of our minds to conjure up mental images.  When you use your memory to recall past experiences, when you make plans for the future by visualizing what you are going to do tomorrow, when you daydream, when you dream, when you fantasize, when your consciousness is just running on neutral, you are using your imagination.

There have been quite a lot of Christian reflection on the faculty of the mind known as reason.  Other mental powers such as the emotions and the will have gotten significant attention.  But there has not been that much lately on the imagination, which, arguably we use more than any of the other mental faculties.  Older theologians, however, from Augustine to Luther, did address the imagination, as we go into.  After the jump, I will explain some of  what this book gets into and has to offer. [Read more...]

In Defense of Looting

Willie Osterweil (a white punk rocker) has written a defense of the looting in Ferguson, Missouri.  Read it, excerpted and linked to after the jump.  You might also take a look at Time‘s article “In Defense of Rioting.”  How would you answer these arguments? [Read more...]

Abortion as a moral good?

Most arguments for abortion have treated it as a tragic but sometimes necessary choice, something regrettable.  The goal should be to make abortion “safe, legal,” but also “rare.”  But tolerating a morally questionable practice is no longer enough; now that practice must also be affirmed as good.  A new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt, argues that we need to start thinking of abortion as something that is morally good, just as good as letting the child be born. [Read more...]


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