Is the internet worth it?

Economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson argues that the internet is not worth it.  Yes, it’s nice to get e-mail, watch YouTube, and have access to all this information.  But, he maintains, the internet has made our infrastructure more fragile and our dependence on the internet opens us up to new levels of crime, sabotage, privacy violations, and social problems. [Read more…]

Setback for Islamic radicals?

The overthrow of the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, by the military after popular protests demanding his ouster, is being described as a setback for Islamic radicalism.  Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a party that has done much to popularize political Islam throughout the world.  So should we be glad about the coup as a defeat of our Islamist enemies or oppose it as a setback for Democracy? [Read more…]

Sequester update

Due to a stalemate between Congress and the Obama administration, automatic spending cuts went into effect to the tune of $85 billion.  This so-called “sequester” of funds was predicted to have dire effects, curbing important government services such as air traffic control and devastating our military.  Actually, hardly any of those dire predictions came to pass.  The Washington Post has an interesting story about how agencies moved money around and cut nonessential spending to keep the worst from happening.  The story includes a specific list of the 46 predictions and what happened with them. [Read more…]

Truths no longer self-evident

Part of the genius of the Declaration of Independence, whose passage we celebrate today, is that it lays out in very explicit terms the assumptions–the “self-evident” truths–upon which the new nation and its government would be founded:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

via Declaration of Independence – Text Transcript.

Today, these truths are no longer “self-evident”; that is, needing no proof because they can be taken for granted.  On the contrary, a good number of Americans don’t believe them at all, and they would seem to have little, if any place in contemporary American culture. [Read more…]

Man Without a Country

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been stuck in the transit zone of a Russian airport for a week.  The U.S. government cancelled his passport, so he can’t get on another airplane.  He has reportedly applied to 21 countries for asylum, all to no avail.  (Some would take him, but he has to get there first.)  What he should have done is settle in a country that would take him and then out himself as the leaker of the NSA internet and cell phone surveillance scheme.  What he should do now is turn himself in to American authorities and take his punishment like a man.

Still, whether he is a traitor or a hero, I feel sorry for him.  He is truly a Man Without a Country.  (Read that short story by Edward Everett Hale to get your patriotic juices flowing on this Fourth of July.) [Read more…]

All literature can be Christian literature

Tom Hering, in saying kind things about my post on the Lutheran Theology of Culture, commended this piece by Joel J. Miller, What is Christian literature? God’s truth, wherever you find it. :

In a 1997 interview with Books and Culture, William F. Buckley Jr. was asked what thinkers influenced him theologically. “I’m a theological novice,” he answered, “but I simply assume that the Christian prism tends to inform Christians, whatever they are reading.”

All literature, in other words, has the potential to be Christian literature. A believer should be able to find something good, true, and beautiful thumbing through most any book — or at least be reminded of those things by their particular absence. Indeed there is a long tradition in the Christian world of reading books by non-Christians and finding in then both use and enjoyment. . . . [Read more…]