Tax breaks as ‘Tax expenditures’

A major proposal to address the deficit is to eliminate various tax deductions–such as for home mortgages and charitable (such as church) giving.  Those tax breaks are being interpreted as the same as government spending.  Eliminating them would increase government revenue by billions of dollars, or even, according to some estimates, a trillion.  Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker,” takes a look at these claims and finds that things are not so simple.  Actually, he shows, cutting out the… Read more

Glenn Beck and his allies in Israel

Glenn Beck is in Israel, holding a big rally supporting that country against its Islamic enemies and calling for solidarity with the Jewish people.  What’s interesting, as Sarah Pulliam Bailey shows, is the way certain media outlets are confounding Beck, a Mormon, with “Christian fundamentalists” and “evangelicals” who believe that Israel is playing a role in Christ’s second coming.  See Israel a la Glenn Beck » GetReligion. On the other hand, some ostensibly conservative Christians are indeed embracing Beck and… Read more

I believe in the “holy Catholic church” or “holy Christian church”?

The great Lutheran blogger Anthony Sacramone–remember Luther at the Movies?–goes from posting whole handfuls of entries a day at Strange Herring to going months without posting a thing (and now to keeping the public from reading it, for some reason).  But he sometimes puts something up at the First Things site.   He has a characteristically humorous, provocative, and instructive post there now:  What’s in a Name? Plenty. » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog. After riffing on how… Read more

Philosophical counselors

Psychiatrists medicalize personal problems, while psychologists apply the social sciences.  Now there are counselors who use philosophers to help people think through their problems: Patricia Anne Murphy is a philosopher with a real-world mission. Murphy may have a PhD and an intimate knowledge of Aristotle and Descartes, but in her snug Takoma Park bungalow, she’s helping a broken-hearted patient struggle through a divorce. Instead of offering the wounded wife a prescription for Effexor — which she’s not licensed to do… Read more

I felt the earth. move. under my feet

I was writing in my office at school when, around 1:51 yesterday, the building and my desk with the built in bookshelf started shaking.  Hard.  Back and forth for thirty seconds.   My mind went just blank, and when I gathered my wits, right at the time it was over, I realized, Earthquake! I have never experienced one of those and have always been kind of paranoid about it, mildly worried whenever I set foot in California.  I had heard from… Read more

Photo of Earthquake Devastation in D.C.

From Bright Young Things Via FamousDC.com HT:  Necessary Roughness Read more

The Dominionist scare

Secularists are scaring themselves with a new bogeyman:  Dominionists.  That is their term for evangelicals and other conservative Christians, whom they are conflating with a tiny number of actual theocrats, which are probably fewer in number than members of the American Communist Party.  I like Michael Gerson’s account: Evangelicals, warned liberal theologian Albert Outler, “want a society ruled by those who know what the word of God is. The technical name for that is ‘theocracy,’ and their Napoleon, whether he… Read more

Libertarian micro-nations

Some libertarian venture-capitalists are planning to build new nations on ocean platforms–they are calling it “seasteading” (get it–from homesteading?)–as libertarian mini-utopias: [Patri] Friedman [grandson of free market economist Milton Friedman] wants to establish new sovereign nations built on oil-rig-type platforms anchored in international waters—free from the regulation, laws, and moral suasion of any landlocked country. They’d be small city-states at first, although the aim is to have tens of millions of seasteading residents by 2050. Architectural plans for a prototype… Read more

The Common English Bible

A new Bible translation is now available, the Common English Bible.  Check out the website, which includes this comparison of passages from the new CEB and other translations:  Common English Bible – Compare Translations. What agendas are evident in this translation?  What theology is at work in the word choices?  What can you say about the literary quality of the CEB? HT: Matthew Cantirino Read more

The Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

Joe Carter, via a string of other blogs, quotes the late Michael Crichton’s 2002 essay “Why Speculate?”: Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.) Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann… Read more

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