September 8, 2003

Why does biology start with the cell and work upwards? Why explain biological phenomena in terms of cell activity, rather than cell activity in terms of the activity of larger systems? No doubt there is experimental evidence to support this approach, but I find it prima facie doubtful. In many other areas, we know that a combination of units is greater than the sum total of the units that comprise it. A basketball team is often better (sometimes worse) than… Read more

September 8, 2003

a book unread on the shelf ?E a rebuke Read more

September 8, 2003

“Do good and lend, without hoping for anything in return.” That is the heart of Christian ethics, according to some, and the kind of gift that Derrida considers impossible. But is this sentence, by itself, the heart of Christian ethics? If so, Christian ethics is inherently contradictory, for Jesus goes on immediately to add “Then your reward will be great” (Luke 6:35). How can Jesus tell us to give without hope of return, and in the next breath promise rewards?… Read more

September 8, 2003

“Do good and lend, without hoping for anything in return.” That is the heart of Christian ethics, according to some, and the kind of gift that Derrida considers impossible. But is this sentence, by itself, the heart of Christian ethics? If so, Christian ethics is inherently contradictory, for Jesus goes on immediately to add “Then your reward will be great” (Luke 6:35). How can Jesus tell us to give without hope of return, and in the next breath promise rewards?… Read more

September 8, 2003

The transition from Luke 6:11 to Luke 6:12ff is highly significant. We know it’s significant because it is preceded by a night of prayer, as are many of the milestones in Jesus’ ministry. What is at stake in the choosing of the Twelve? Jesus has come preaching the kingdom, and the year of release. The people of Nazareth try to kill him. Strike one. Then Jesus enacts the year/day of release by healing on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees go… Read more

September 7, 2003

David Brooks has a typically delightful and instructive piece in the current issue of Atlantic . He points out that over four decades, 49 members of Congress have run for President, and of those exactly 49 have been beaten. The main reason, he says, is that Congressmen live in a political form of “Plato’s cave,” and have little contact with reality; they have contact only with the “shadows” of reality that come to them through lobbyists, other Congressmen, and others… Read more

September 7, 2003

David Brooks has a typically delightful and instructive piece in the current issue of Atlantic . He points out that over four decades, 49 members of Congress have run for President, and of those exactly 49 have been beaten. The main reason, he says, is that Congressmen live in a political form of “Plato’s cave,” and have little contact with reality; they have contact only with the “shadows” of reality that come to them through lobbyists, other Congressmen, and others… Read more

September 7, 2003

In the “What Vietnam syndrome?” category, Lawrence Kaplan reports in The New Republic that opinion polls show that Americans are quite willing to go the distance in Iraq, even at the cost of considerable casualties. One poll asked people the maximum tolerable number of casualties for Iraq, and the mean response was 29,853. 58% of those questioned in a Wall Street Journal poll said they were willing for the US to maintain a presence in Iraq as long as five… Read more

September 7, 2003

In the “What Vietnam syndrome?” category, Lawrence Kaplan reports in The New Republic that opinion polls show that Americans are quite willing to go the distance in Iraq, even at the cost of considerable casualties. One poll asked people the maximum tolerable number of casualties for Iraq, and the mean response was 29,853. 58% of those questioned in a Wall Street Journal poll said they were willing for the US to maintain a presence in Iraq as long as five… Read more

September 7, 2003

James Wood is always worth reading. His latest review in The New Republic examines the first novel of Monica Ali, entitled Brick Lane . It tells the story of Nazneen, an eighteen-year-old Bangladeshi woman who is taken from her home to an arranged marriage to a much older man in London. The novel as Wood describes is sound affecting and stylish, and along the way Wood points out some interesting effects of the new literature of “hyphenated” America: In the… Read more

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