Smart people saying smart things

Smart people saying smart things November 20, 2011

Sebastian Castellio (via Richard Beck): “On Heretics & Disagreement

Calvin says that he is certain, and [other sects] say that they are; Calvin says that they are wrong and wishes to judge them, and so do they. Who shall be judge? What made Calvin the arbiter of all the sects, that he alone should kill? He has the Word of God and so have they. If the matter is certain, to who is it so? To Calvin? But then why does he write so many books about manifest truth?…In view of the uncertainty we must define the heretic simply as one with whom we disagree. And if then we are going to kill heretics, the logical outcome will be a war of extermination, since each is sure of himself.

Kevin Drum: “Making Hard Work Fashionable Again

It’s increasingly impossible to sell people transparently self-promoting fairy tales that plainly don’t reflect how the real world works. If you want them to believe that hard work and discipline are important, then hard work and discipline have to really be important. Not just modestly helpful. Not mere drops compared to the obviously undeserved piles of so many of the super rich. If we want people to believe, we have to believe too. We have to believe that America should be a country where everyone prospers, not just the cognitive elite and the super lucky.

Until we all believe this — until conservatives believe this — the notions of responsibility and discipline that conservatives talk about so much are probably going to continue fading. In recent decades they’ve simply dedicated too much of their lives and too much of their energy to patent unfairness to be surprised any longer that belief in being fairly rewarded is on the wane.

Jesse Jackson (via Peter Dorman): “They work every day

I know they work. I’m a witness. They catch the early bus. They work every day. They raise other people’s children. They work every day. They clean streets. They work every day. They drive vans with cabs. They work every day. They change the beds you slept in these hotels last night and can’t get a union contract. They work every day. No more. They’re not lazy. Someone must defend them because it’s right, and they cannot speak for themselves. They work in hospitals. I know they do. They wipe the bodies of those who are sick with fever and pain. They empty their bedpans. They clean out their commode. No job is beneath them, and yet when they get sick, they cannot lie in the bed they made up every day. America, that is not right. We are a better nation than that.

Alan Bean: “Fetal personhood and civil rights

If the fetal personhood people wish to be seen as the heirs of William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King Jr., they must develop a consistent moral philosophy that applies across the board. So long as the pro-life community remains indifferent to the plight of the poor, the unemployed, the disenfranchised felon, the rape victim and the victims of mass incarceration, I’m not impressed.

John Scalzi: “Omelas State University

One of the great stories of science fiction is “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” which was written by Ursula K. Le Guin. The story posits a fantastic utopian city, where everything is beautiful, with one catch: In order for all this comfort and beauty to exist, one child must be kept in filth and misery. Every citizen of Omelas, when they come of age, is told about that one blameless child being put through hell. And they have a choice: Accept that is the price for their perfect lives in Omelas, or walk away from that paradise, into uncertainty and possibly chaos.

At Pennsylvania State University, a grown man found a blameless child being put through hell. Other grown men learned of it. Each of them had to make their choice, and decide, fundamentally, whether the continuation of their utopia — or at very least the illusion of their utopia — was worth the pain and suffering of that one child. Through their actions, and their inactions, we know the choice they made.

Thomas L. Day: “Penn State, my final loss of faith

I’m 31, an Iraq war veteran, a Penn State graduate, a Catholic, a native of State College, acquaintance of Jerry Sandusky’s, and a product of his Second Mile foundation.

And I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents’ generation. …

Think of the world our parents’ generation inherited. They inherited a country of boundless economic prosperity and the highest admiration overseas, produced by the hands of their mothers and fathers. They were safe. For most, they were endowed opportunities to succeed, to prosper, and build on their parents’ work.

For those of us in our 20s and early 30s, this is not the world we are inheriting. …

We looked for leadership from our churches, and were told to fight not poverty or injustice, but gay marriage. In the Catholic Church, we were told to blame the media, not the abusive priests, not the bishops, not the Vatican, for making us feel that our church has failed us in its sex abuse scandal and cover-up.

Our parents’ generation has balked at the tough decisions required to preserve our country’s sacred entitlements, leaving us to clean up the mess. They let the infrastructure built with their fathers’ hands crumble like a stale cookie. …

Haroon Moghul: “Jesus, Carpet Bomb My Heart: An Undercover Muslim in Detroit

But there is a more inescapable truth about Engle’s “Dearborn Awakening.” He chose a speaker who lied, obfuscated, and confused. Should any of the participants want to learn more about Islam, if even to bring Jesus to Muslims, they have already heard the worst of the worst. And they’ll quickly find out that Islam is very different from what they were told it is. All the passionate music, jubilation, and spiritual energy cannot hide the meanness of spirit that would perpetrate this kind of fraud.

As much as TheCall prayed for “Jesus to cover Dearborn in light, and cast out the darkness,” Kamal Saleem was the one speaking in the dead of night. Engle should pay more attention to his own moralizing etiology of America’s crisis. Democracy, like a free-market economy, operates on trust, and when that trust is lost, it is very hard to recover. The relationship of the faithful with their leaders is much the same. Those many thousands who were clearly lied to on Saturday morning will find out. Perhaps not immediately. But eventually. And then they’ll begin to wonder what else was a lie.

Be careful, Lou Engle.


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