Your predictions for 2014

Happy New Year’s!  It’s time to look ahead on the year to come and to make our annual predictions about what we expect to happen in the new year.  We will then review those predictions on December 31, as we did yesterday, heaping honors upon the best prognosticators.  So predict away!  After the jump, some reflections on predictions. [Read more...]

Corporate assaults on freedom

When we think of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other civil liberties, we usually think of the way the government has violated or could potentially violate them.  The Bill of Rights limits what the government can do and thus is an important safe guard of its citizens’ freedom.  And yet, the government is not the only institution that can quench civil liberties, as we see in the Duck Dynasty controversy.  Phil Robertson’s freedom of speech and his freedom of religion were punished not by the government but by the Arts & Entertainment Network, along with the corporations that sponsor his show.

Corporations are not restricted by the Bill of Rights.   Nor is the more generalized “social pressure” that comes from cultural disapproval. But individuals who are silenced by corporations–which in some ways have more power than the government–are not free.  Individuals whose religion is persecuted by the society–whether from mobs or cultural sanctions–are not free. [Read more...]

“They know not what they do”

We just celebrated the last Sunday of the Church Year–some call it the Sunday of the Fulfillment or Christ the King Sunday.  And the Gospel reading for this triumphant, climactic day is about. . . Christ on the Cross (Luke 23:27-43).  Our pastor preached on some words of His that I’ve never heard treated like this:  “They know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

The sermon made me realize that the epistemological problem–what do we know and how do we know it?–is not just a theoretical question for academic philosophers. In the course of our everyday lives, we have to function with major gaps in our knowledge. [Read more...]

Four Dangerous Ideas

Hear them all (from Dan Savage, Germaine Greer, Peter Hitchens, and Hanna Rosin).

HT:  Aaron Lewis & Wrigley Peterborough

Happy Lewis/Huxley/Kennedy day!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley.  The curious conjunction of the death of these three individuals (a Christian apologist, an American president, and a speculative novelist), with their different cultural contributions and different worldviews, on November 22, 1963 is worth contemplating, especially at the half-century milestone.  So that’s what we will do today on this blog.

A good way to observe the day, after the jump. [Read more...]

Two kinds of libertarianism

A writer who goes by the nom de plume “Hamilton” says that both Republican and Democratic intellectuals and policy makers are essentially libertarians.  (He says that there are few old-school socialists or New Dealers left in the Democratic party.)  But there are two different kinds of libertarians:  the school of John C. Calhoun and the school of Robert Heinlein.

Calhoun was the 19th century statesman from South Carolina who was a major spokesman for state’s rights, limited government, and individual rights.  Heinlein was the 20th century science fiction writer who championed individual liberty empowered by technology.   Calhounian libertarians are socially conservative, religious, and inhabit the Republican party.  Heinleinian libertarians are the socially liberal, tend to be involved in the new information technology, and are usually Democrats.

But Hamilton thinks that Calhoun and Heinlein could form an alliance.  I would  question the authenticity of a libertarianism that defends slavery, as Calhoun did, and that supports the power of one person over another that we see in abortion, as Democratic  libertarians tend to do.  But still. . . .What do you think of Hamilton’s analysis, given after the jump? [Read more...]


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