What Freedom from Moral Sensibilities Feels Like

Writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Kevin Dutton underwent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to damp down his amygdala and explore the way some brain scientists think psychopaths feel.  (It's the Dark Side version of a moral jump discontinuity).  I've read some scientific literature on this hypothesis before, but it was really interesting to read his subjective experience. It isn't long before I start to notice a fuzzier, more pervasive, more existential difference. Before the e … [Read more...]

Why Won’t Candidates Run on This Life Issue?

This week, as part of Election Month at Patheos, the prompt for bloggers is: What are the key issues at stake in this election for people of your tradition?Well, I suppose I should start by disclaimering that I am not a canon lawyer, and this is not Official Catholic Advice.  But, hey, at least the issue I'm going to talk about is non-partisan.  And that's the worse part; as the last foreign policy debate showed, callousness to human life, provided it's that of the enemy (or people living in … [Read more...]

If you can’t take the heat, turn into a tardigrade!

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" is a quote that is frequently attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt (without sourcing). I found it for the first time while I was in middle school in a Dear Abby column and adopted it as a mantra until some point in college.  This can be a helpful coping strategy, especially in middle school, but I was definitely too enthused about it.I flashed back to my younger self when I read Ted Seeber's comment on my post about the campaign against Jen … [Read more...]

Offering Loving Resistance [Sequence Index]

In July 2012, Patheos sent me a copy of Logan Mehl-Laituri's memoir Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism & Conscience to review, and thus was sparked a wide- ranging (unusually book-heavy, even for me) discussion of just war, martyrdom, the courage of enemies, and whether Hamlet is the worst person in Hamlet.  I've collected all those loosely linked posts here.Can Lethal Resistance be Loving? - The initial book review, discussing Laituri's decision to become a … [Read more...]

Brave Enough to Kill

The Pentagon is considering awarding Distinguished Warfare Medals to drone pilots and Glen Greenwald is furious.  He sees it as an attempt "to depict drone warfare as some sort of courageous and noble act." Greenwald and I are in accord in condemning the use of drones for assassination, but I don't know that I agree with his critique here.  Greenwald says flying a drone cannot meet any of our traditional criteria for valor because: Whatever one thinks of the justifiability of drone attacks, i … [Read more...]

What Can You Do in the War?

this republic of suffering

Given the way our discussion of pacifism has meandered over to a debate about martyrdom, what you want to "accomplish" with your death (and whether that's a coherent question), I'd like to recommend something for your summer reading list: Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.  It's a fabulous book.  It doesn't presuppose that you're a Civil War buff, so casual readers have no barrier to entry, and it delves into a strange, tightly-circumscribed  topic, … [Read more...]

Can Lethal Resistance be Loving?

I quite enjoyed reading Logan Mehl-Laituri's Reborn on the 4th of July for the Patheos Book Club this month.  Mehl-Laituri was weakly religious, but, while serving in the US Army, he became more deeply engaged with Christianity and ultimately decided that his newfound faith was incompatible with his job shooting people.It's obviously an emotional as well as an intellectual journey for Mehl-Laituri, but since I tend to be an unfeeling reader, wishing for a little less personality and a bit … [Read more...]


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