Daily Archives: February 9, 2011

Notable and Quotable (II)

For Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but he who destroys a good Book, kills reason it self, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life….We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labors of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in Books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre, whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at that ethereal and fift essence, the breath of reason it self, slays an immortality rather then a life.

–John Milton (1608-1674), Areopagitica (Hat tip: AH)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books

Lee Siegel reviews Evgeny Morozov's new book "The Net delusion"

The miraculously convenient technology of the Internet has created an unprecedented simultaneity of moral functions. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is like an incarnation of Shiva, the Hindu god of creation and destruction. It turns out that what was recently considered a brave new age of information was actually the first spasm in a long process of cultural realignment. We are all used to thinking of Google as though it were synonymous with the word “future.” In 50 years, people will be talking about Google the way we talk about the East India Company. We are still wobbling in the baby steps of the Internet age.

As Evgeny Morozov demonstrates in “The Net Delusion,” his brilliant and courageous book, the Internet’s contradictions and confusions are just becoming visible through the fading mist of Internet euphoria. Morozov is interested in the Internet’s political ramifications. “What if the liberating potential of the Internet also contains the seeds of depoliticization and thus dedemocratization?” he asks. The Net delusion of his title is just that. Contrary to the “cyberutopians,” as he calls them, who consider the Internet a powerful tool of political emancipation, Morozov convincingly argues that, in freedom’s name, the Internet more often than not constricts or even abolishes freedom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Globalization, History, Psychology, Science & Technology

Notable and Quotable (I)

When it came to trying to decide which theories were absolutely ruinous to the future of your child””a subject of considerable discussion among some parents we knew””we agreed on a simple notion: Your children are either the center of your life or they’re not, and the rest is commentary.

–Calvin Trillin, About Alice (New York: Random House, 2006), p.60; emphasis mine

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology

(Washington Post) Obama to propose relief for states burdened by debt from unemployment benefits

States that have borrowed billions of dollars from the federal government to cover the soaring cost of unemployment benefits would get immediate relief from the Obama administration under a plan to suspend interest payments for the next two years.

The proposal, which will be included in the budget request President Obama will send to Congress next week, would allow states to avoid raising taxes on employers to cover the payments – which are projected to total $3.6 billion through 2012, according to independent estimates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(USA Today) As Home Equity plummets, a California county adjusts to lowered expectations

(Merced, California) Life has changed in ways big and small in this central California county, which is still trapped in the wreckage of a housing boom that went bust five years ago.

The median home price, $116,000, is down 68% from its peak in 2006. Three of five homeowners with a mortgage here owe more on their loans than their houses are worth, compared with about one in five nationally.

Socked by a sharp loss of property and sales tax revenue, Merced County and its cities have slashed budgets, workers and services. The grass is being mowed less often in city parks. A senior center is open fewer hours.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(AP) Commander: U.S. Special Ops Forces Are Stressed

The elite troops of U.S. special operations forces are showing signs of fraying after nearly 10 years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, their commander said Tuesday.

Adm. Eric T. Olson says that while the number of special operations forces has doubled to about 60,000 over the last nine years, the total of those deployed overseas has quadrupled. Roughly 6,500 special operators are in Afghanistan and about 3,500 are in Iraq, though those numbers can vary as units move in and out of the war zone.

Olson said the demand for the specialized units in Afghanistan is insatiable, forcing troops to deploy to war at a rate that is off the charts. And he said he does not see that demand declining in the next several years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Stress, War in Afghanistan

(New Yorker) Lawrence Wright–Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology

When [Paul] Haggis first turned to Scientology, he considered himself an atheist. Scientology seemed to him less a religion than a set of useful principles for living. He mentioned the ARC Triangle; “ARC” stands for “Affinity, Reality, and Communication.” Affinity, in this formulation, means the emotional response that partners have toward each other; reality is the area of common agreement. Together, these contribute to the flow of communication. “The three parts together equal understanding,” Haggis said. “If you’re having a disagreement with someone, your affinity drops quickly. Your mutual reality is shattered. Your communication becomes more halted. You begin to talk over each other. There’s less and less understanding. But all you need to do is to raise one part of the triangle and you increase the others as well. I still use that.”
Some aspects of Scientology baffled him. He hadn’t been able to get through “Dianetics”: “I read about thirty pages. I thought it was impenetrable.” But much of the coursework gave him a feeling of accomplishment. He was soon commuting from London, Ontario, to Toronto to take more advanced courses, and, in 1976, he travelled to Los Angeles for the first time. He checked in at the old Chateau Élysée, on Franklin Avenue. Clark Gable and Katharine Hepburn had once stayed there, but when Haggis arrived it was a run-down church retreat called the Manor Hotel. (It has since been spectacularly renovated and turned into the flagship Celebrity Centre.) “I had a little apartment with a kitchen I could write in,” he recalls. “There was a feeling of camaraderie that was something I’d never experienced””all these atheists looking for something to believe in, and all these loners looking for a club to join….”

Since leaving the church, Haggis has been in therapy, which he has found helpful. He’s learned how much he blames others for his problems, especially those who are closest to him. “I really wish I had found a good therapist when I was twenty-one,” he said. In Scientology, he always felt a subtle pressure to impress his auditor and then write up a glowing success story. Now, he said, “I’m not fooling myself that I’m a better man than I am.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Elizabeth Bernstein–How–and Why–to say "I love you"

Need help with “I love you”? Here’s what I’ve learned:

Pretend you’re a child. My sister recently tried to teach her son, Zachy, who is almost three, to sing the song “Do You Love Me?” from “Fiddler on the Roof” with her. Each time she sang the title lyric, Zachy belted out “YES!”

Ask the person to say it back to you. Dr. Kirschner calls this “positive shaping talk.” If you tell your mother that you love her and she doesn’t respond, say, “Mom, I would really appreciate it if you told me you loved me.” If mom freezes, Dr. Kirschner says, gently coax and encourage her. “No one can read your mind,” she says. “You have to teach them how to show you love.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Women

(Charlie Rose Show) Roger Cohen on the Longing for Democracy and Dignity in Egypt

CHARLIE ROSE: I want to turn to one thing that I thought you wrote about really well, which is the sense of dignity that pervades the people that you have met. I’m quoting now from a man who said “Why would we trust him now to play it right? That’s the question the west hasn’t answered.”

Then you say “The deeper problem is more cultural than political. To accept the Mubarak or chaos argument is a form of disrespect to the civility and capacity of Tahrir Square. It’s an expression of western failure before the exploding Arab thirst for dignity and representative government. It reflects the old conditioning which sees in an Egyptian culture that was after all deep enough and realistic enough to accept peace with Israel no more than a disaster waiting to happen if the iron fist is removed.

Western leaders say events in the Arab world should spur Israelis and Palestinians to peace because they know how unstable the region is. Wrong,” you say. “These events are themselves the spur to the only
sustainable peace, one based on Arab self-respect and self-expression.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General

Daily Mail–How to cure a witch: Catholic Church issues guide in Britain

A guide on how to convert witches to Christianity has been published by the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.

The move comes in response to fears that growing numbers of teenagers are being lured into Wicca, occult practices and paganism by the heroic depiction of witches in entertainment including the Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice films, and TV.

The booklet, called Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Dangers, offers parents advice on what to do if one of their children takes an interest in witchcraft.

Read it all and you can read a description of the actual booklet here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Wicca / paganism

(RNS) Controversial N.Y. Mosque Loses Another Leader

The proposed Park51 Islamic community center and mosque project near Ground Zero is again looking for a top imam after Sheik Abdallah Adhami resigned the post less than one month into the job.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Church must continue to influence debate, says Archbishop of York

The Church of England cannot expect to be “universally welcomed or applauded” for performing its “God-given duty” to re-evangelise the country, the archbishop of York has said.

At a meeting of the General Synod in London, Dr John Sentamu warned that the “counter-cultural vision” of the church mission did not promise a “life of ease, but of criticism, even persecution”.

He told the assembled clergy and laity that people lived in “fractious and uncertain times” in which the national church was “constantly questioned and attacked”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

(London Times) Bishops approve iPhone and iPad Confession App

Roman Catholic bishops have approved a new iPhone and iPad app that allows users to make confession with a virtual “priest” over the internet.

“Confession: A Roman Catholic App”, which went on sale through Apple’s iTunes website for £1.19 last week, offers “a personalised examination of conscience for each user”, according to its makers. It asks penitents to list sins they have committed by misdeed or omission.

Senior Church officials in the US and Britain have approved the app, which they say can be used by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, England / UK, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Eternal God, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; Unite me, as I pray and worship thee here, with all who in far-off places are lifting up their hands and hearts to thee; that thy Church throughout the world, with the Church in heaven, may offer up one sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving; to the praise and honour of thy holy name.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

–Mark 10:14-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture