Culture & pop culture

“Culture” is one of those lofty words with lots of meanings.  It can refer to a “society” with all of its institutions, values, and customs.  Or it can refer to “the arts,” as in going to the opera to soak up some culture.   Ken Meyers usefully distinguishes between folk culture (the ways and artifcats of a community with a common history), high culture (the contributions of talented individuals that go on to benefit a whole society), and pop culture (the commercialized artifacts designed to be bought and sold).

In this space, take it whichever way you want to.  Raise questions of vast social import (for instance, gay marriage), talk about music (bluegrass groups in the folk culture, or jazz artists in the high culture, or whatever) or books you are enjoying, or talk about issues of summer entertainment (was the Lone Ranger really as bad as the critics are saying?).

Christian apologist in the news

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a remarkably sympathetic article on William Lane Craig, the Christian philosopher and apologist.  The article discusses his background and achievements (including his debates with “the new atheists”), the new impact of Christian philosophy, and Biola’s programs in philosophy and apologetics.  The site needs a subscription, but I’ll post excerpts after the jump. [Read more…]

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…]