My colleague Mark Mitchell on why Jane Austen still resonates with young people today and what they can learn from her: Reading Pride and Prejudice with a group of bright and interested students has been a delight. Austen can charm students in 2011 and, given the multitude of voices and volumes competing for their attention, this is no small feat. But what, exactly, is it that makes Austen such a good teacher today? The question, itself, suggests that Austen is… Read more

Fifteen states are considering banning abortions after five months of pregnancy.  Nebraska and Kansas have passed it, and Iowa may be next: The Iowa Senate will consider a bill that bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, following approval of the measure by the state House Thursday night, lawmakers said Friday. State Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, a Republican, said the bill is a priority because a Nebraska doctor has said he plans to open a clinic in Council Bluffs,… Read more

This is apparently the traditional way: You don’t burn them. You never, ever burn them.  An unwanted holy book, be it Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or any other scripture, can be disposed of humanely and appropriately, but not burned.  A holy book is afforded the same respect as a human being in every religious tradition in the world — except, apparently, the one practiced by one pastor in Florida.  You bury them. via Jon M. Sweeney: How to Properly Dispose of… Read more

Earlier we blogged about the European Court of Human Rights ruling that Italian public schools could have crucifixes on their walls. Stanley Fish looks more closely at the decision and finds, as often happens in the United States too, that rulings that are seemingly in favor of Christianity actually end up eviscerating religion. The question at issue was whether an Italian law requiring the placing of crucifixes in public classrooms violates a clause of the European Convention On Human Rights… Read more

George Wills reports on a free speech case in St. Louis: [Jim] Roos responded [to repeated efforts by the local government to seize his property] by painting on the side of one of his buildings a large mural — a slash through a red circle containing the words “End Eminent Domain Abuse.” The government that had provoked him declared his sign “illegal” and demanded that he seek a permit for it. He did. Then the government denied the permit. The… Read more

Terry Jones, that Florida preacher, went ahead and burned a copy of the Koran, even though he had said that he wouldn’t.   So a mob in Afghanistan killed seven UN workers. Many more foreigners were injured and there are reports of other deaths in other incidents. See this vivid account. These killings are not by the Taliban but by the ordinary Afghanis we have been trying to liberate. I am enraged by them and also by the preacher whose… Read more

In many countries–especially China and other Asian nations–the preference for a boy baby is so strong that girls are routinely aborted.  But this is happening in the United States also!  The births among Asian-American populations are also heavily skewed to having more boys than girls.  Arizona has passed a law forbidding abortion for gender selection. Why aren’t feminists supporting laws like this? Arizona and the War on Baby Girls » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog. Read more

The Fukushima 50 are the fifty workers who are trying desperately to prevent a nuclear meltdown in the four reactors damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  They have had to go into the plants, subjecting themselves to massive radiation.  They reportedly expect the radiation to kill them.  But they keep going in. Workers at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan say they expect to die from radiation sickness as a result of their efforts to bring the… Read more

Every April 1, people by custom pull pranks, and this is especially true online, with phony news items, outrageous-but-soberly-delivered claims, and elaborate hoaxes.  As I have said, the Cranach blog does not and will not do that.  But others do.  Nevertheless, I get a kick out of them. If you come across any April Fool’s Day stunts on the internet, please post a link to them in the comments.  That way we can all benefit. Read more

Here is a good summary of the debate among conservatives about whether or not to support the war in Libya: Ron Radosh » Our Libyan War: What Position Should Skeptical Conservatives Take?. Neoconservative William Kristol is calling the president Barack H. Reagan and saying conservatives should back off in their criticism and support the president in war time.  He believes that America should always be on the side of freedom and that protecting the Libyan rebels and working to overthrow… Read more

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