President Obama said “no” to the pipeline that would transport Canadian oil from that country’s vast reserves of oil sand to the refineries of Texas, creating jobs along the whole route.  Even the liberal Washington Post editorial board thinks that decision is foolish and makes the point that stopping the pipeline won’t even help the environment: Without the pipeline, Canada would still export its bitumen — with long-term trends in the global market, it’s far too valuable to keep in… Read more

The Wikipedia blackout and other protests on the internet to the SOPA bill may have done some good.   Congressmen, including former sponsors in the House and the Senate, are now running away from the bill.  President Obama has also come out against the bill as it stands, provoking Hollywood moguls to threaten to withdraw their financial support of his campaign.   Read more

Forget about the BCS Bowls, the NCAA tournament, and the tortured definitions of “student athlete.”  To me, I am proudest of these national champions:  Patrick Henry College students J. C. Cartee and Andrew Ferguson who won the national undergraduate moot court championship! Moot court involves students pretending to argue a case before an appellate court (one of which would be the Supreme Court).  They prepare briefs, make their argument before a judge against an opposing side, and respond to questions… Read more

We Lutherans believe in the supernatural efficacy of “Word and Sacrament.”  Other Christians believe in the power of God’s Word, but deny that water, bread, and wine, when joined to God’s Word, can have any more than a symbolic significance.  After all, how can the physical convey what is spiritual?  Part of my answer has always been that the Word too is a physical thing–ink on paper, sound waves in the air–that God uses sacramentally to bring us His grace. David Neff… Read more

University of Virginia English professor Mark Edmundson has written a fascinating essay entitled “Do Sports Build Character or Damage It?”  The short answer is “both,” or “either.”  In the course of his discussion, which draws on his own experience playing football, he points out Plato’s observation that human beings have a need for thymos–the thirst for glory–but that this passion needs to be subordinated to reason.  Edmundson illustrates his points by contrasting the two major figures of Homer’s Iliad:  Hector… Read more

A long-time educational myth is exploded: For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains. Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise. Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push… Read more

If you try looking something up today on Wikipedia, you won’t be able to.  The ubiquitous online encyclopedia is shutting down as a way to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently before Congress.  Other sites, such as Reddit and Boing Boing are also joining the strike.  Google and others will not shut down, but they will put up messages decrying the attempt at internet “censorship.”  Here are some details: Though the Stop Online Piracy Act has the support… Read more

Pro-abortion advocates are claiming that what pro-lifers and Republicans in general really want is to outlaw birth control.  As evidence they are citing Rick Santorum’s stated belief as a Roman Catholic that he does not believe in contraception (even though he underscored that he is not trying to make it illegal), efforts to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood (for its abortion clinics), and proposals to allow Catholic organizations to have a “conscience clause” so they won’t have to provide… Read more

Arguing for Christian observances to the point of denying they are Christian: A lawsuit against the Sussex County Council in Delaware alleges that by reciting the Lord’s Prayer before meetings, the council “has publicly aligned itself with a single faith” in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. During a hearing in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, however, the county’s attorney argued that the prayer isn’t necessarily just a Christian one. Attorney J. Scott Shannon told U.S. District Court Judge… Read more

For all that I love my native Oklahoma, education is not one of its strong points.  Harold Cole, writing in the Daily Oklahoman, gives  an example of the mindset that keeps holding it back: A group of school superintendents recently expressed concern that about 6,000 high school seniors won’t graduate this year because of mandatory end-of-instruction tests. While others attempt to ascertain why this problem exists in order to propose preventive measures, Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, already knows what to… Read more

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