Archive for the ‘Link’ Category

D’Souza / Singer debate at Biola

March 31, 2008

So Cal readers, if you’re into apologetics and big name debaters, mark your calendars for April 25th. Dinesh D’Souza debates Peter Singer on the topic: “God, Yes or No?”

I’m sure it will be a good event, despite the lame title. (Does God exist, yes or no? Should we believe in God, yes or no? Hey there God, could you give me a Yes or No?)

Cost is $10; registration is required.

Complete schedule


Obama and “reviving historical stereotypes”

March 28, 2008

Read Richard John Neuhaus’s commentary on Obama’s Philadelphia “race speech.” A snippet:

Conceding to him the best of intentions, Senator Obama has inadvertently launched an exercise in the demeaning of black America that is, in consequence, very ugly. Whites are invited to make their peace with the fact that these are the children of Stepin Fetchit and Amos and Andy who have replaced humor with the shuffle of political extremism but are still entertaining the country by doing their black thing. Cut them some slack. Lighten up.
[. . .]
By reviving historic stereotypes, Senator Obama’s speech and the uses to which it is being put has dealt a severe blow to race relations in America. It is giving a big boost to what someone has rightly called the soft bigotry of low expectations.

I myself read the whole speech, and watched about 10 minutes of it. I was impressed. But I think Neuhaus has some good points. Still, it might be good to have Obama in the White House, if for no other reason than (as Neuhaus says), “a black president would put a stake through the heart of liberal guilt-mongering about our putatively racist society.” Amen to that.

New insanity from higher education

March 9, 2008

If you want to look “inclusive” and as non-sexist as possible, you now use the @ sign at the ends of Spanish words that would normally end either in O or A. To wit: the new “themed floors” in the residence halls at UCLA, one of which will be the “Chican@/Latin@ diaspora” floor. The @ sign, being an A inside of an O, is supposed to encompass both male and female, and thus be less likely than insensitive words like Chicano and Latina to emotionally scar someone for life.

Good Lord, shield us from an overconcentration of buzz-words.

Read the article at the Daily Bruin. It may be the first and only time in your life that you laugh while vomiting, both uncontrollably.

But I have a problem with this. (Big surprise.) I want to know how the idea of a Chican@/Latin@ diaspora floor is more “inclusive” than any of the themed floors it is replacing:

an academic floor, a social justice floor, an art floor, a community service floor and a health and fitness floor

These cover EVERYBODY. Chican@ etc. covers only Chican@s. Funny thing, too: they plan to introduce new themes in the future if Chican@ et al. prove successful. One of the projected future themes is “health and fitness.”

And what’s up with the O encompassing the A? Like the A needs the O’s protection? And what about the letter O belonging to women, for its likeness to feminine anatomy? (See this book for an example.)

The whole thing—focusing on my race rather than on “academics” or “art”—is like a piano player taking lessons to master the trill, without caring ever to learn the circle of fifths.

Do read the whole article. It’s ridiculous.

OH, there is another something I read this week that could induce joint laughter and horking. As reported on the Phi Beta Cons blog, the Madonna Constantine plagiarism case at Columbia University has been subjected to a profoundly moving analysis by one Anthony Kelley. In the piece, entitled “Is Professor Constantine Guilty of Plagiarism?”, Kelley, a self-described “advocate of black radical feminism,” is concerned less with whether plagiarism occurred than with making sure nobody’s feelings get hurt:

By staying committed to the principles of compassion and love, I trust that we may be able to preserve both the integrity of all individuals involved and the community to which we are all committed.

If you see Kelley, tell him this: a plagiarizer forfeits his or her (can I just write “h@” and be understood?) integrity, and betrays the trust of the community h@ belongs to. However, to Kelley, the whole thing “is just another instance of white supremacy and sexism at work wherein a black woman’s credibility is systematically made illegitimate.”

I suppose the mournful saga of oppression begins when an Ivy League school hires a black woman and then awards her tenure. The depths of white supremacy’s evil are indeed fathomless.

I will say, though, that if she did not plagiarize, then her accusers need to pay, big time. If she did plagiarize, she needs to pay.

Anyway, I have work to do, so I’ll leave you with the ending. Anthony Kelley makes Mr. Rogers look like Rambo in this dripping performance:

We do not know whether or not Professor Constantine committed plagiarism. Neither do we know her motivations if she did indeed plagiarize. Nonetheless, we should have fewer conversations about punishment and more conversations about redemption and healing. Only after constructive dialogue can we even begin to discuss “punishment” or “sanctions.”

Imagine a forum in which Professor Constantine and her accusers engage in the life-sustaining practice of dialogue, actively listening to each other’s concerns and extending heart-felt compassion in understanding each other’s pain. Imagine the reconciliation that could arise from such a space. Imagine the impact such a forum would have on our community. Instead of just giving lip-service to the idea of dialogue, we would be demonstrating its importance and effectiveness, even when it is difficult and uncomfortable. Imagine an end to the lies. Imagine embracing truth. Imagine healing.

Anthony Kelley is a Columbia College junior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies. Strength to Love runs alternate Tuesdays.

HAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!!! Dangit, sign me up! I want love! I want Columbia WGS love!

The Bible as graphic novel

February 11, 2008

A quote:

Abraham rides a horse out of an explosion to save Lot. Og, king of Bashan, looms like an early Darth Vader. The Sermon on the Mount did not make the book, though, because there was not enough action to it.

People will misuse any edition of the Bible, but I wonder if this book has an introduction explaining that it’s “just the action scenes”? [Update: Just saw that the Manga Bible comes in a full-text edition as well as an “action highlights” version.] I am not a big fan of the idea of the Bible as a graphic novel, but I do think that it argues for the continued power of the Bible as a living book to inspire people.

When I went to the and clicked on “Downloads” I was surprised to see that the section at the top of the “page spreads” section was the Gospel reading for yesterday, the first Sunday in Lent (Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness). Coincidence, or does the webmaster update the sample based on the liturgical calendar?

Canterbury calls for Sharia

February 8, 2008

Okay kids, time for bed. It’s been a fun 475-odd years, but now you’re just getting silly:

NY Times:

The archbishop of Canterbury called Thursday for Britain to adopt aspects of Islamic Shariah law alongside the existing legal system. His speech set off a storm of opposition among politicians, lawyers and others, including some Muslims.

Legal recognition of Shariah has been a longstanding demand among some Muslim groups in Britain, and their spokesmen endorsed the archbishop’s proposals. Faisal Siddiqui, a lawyer, told the BBC that “sensational stories” about extreme punishments had distorted the benefits of Islamic law. “The reality is that it has enriched civilization and humanity for 1,400 years,” he said.

Right. With the last 200 or so years being especially rich in Muslim contributions to world civ . . . science, government, etc.

Blu-ray wins?

February 3, 2008

NY Times: “Warner Backs Blu-ray, Tilting DVD Battle

The high-definition DVD war is all but over.


Anti-3rd world politics of global warming

February 1, 2008

At, an article by Alexander Cockburn.

A must-read for anyone convinced that the crusade to end global warming is motivated by a politically disinterested care for Mother Earth, and that ever-greater regulations on normal people will enhance their quality of life.

This turn to climate catastrophism is tied into the decline of the left, and the decline of the left’s optimistic vision of altering the economic nature of things through a political programme. The left has bought into environmental catastrophism because it thinks that if it can persuade the world that there is indeed a catastrophe, then somehow the emergency response will lead to positive developments in terms of social and environmental justice.

This is a fantasy. In truth, environmental catastrophism will, in fact it already has, play into the hands of sinister-as-always corporate interests.

More generally, climate catastrophism is leading to a re-emphasis of the powers of the advanced industrial world, through its various trade mechanisms, to penalise Third World countries.

And other good stuff in the piece, so go check it out.

Library of Congress on flickr

January 23, 2008

LOC’s flickr page. Lots of historical photos, worth a look!

ECT on the Blessed Virgin Mary

November 27, 2007

First Things is publishing a series of “preliminary papers” by members of the ecumenical project Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). They are “currently engaged in studying what can be said together about the Blessed Virgin Mary.” The participants include some well known theologians from both sides: Edward T. Oakes, J.I. Packer, T.M. Moore, Matthew Levering, and Cornelius Plantinga. (The link above is to Oakes’s paper; here is Packer’s.)

The series should be worth the reading time. I found the paper by Oakes (on the Immaculate Conception) very interesting, with a lot of fascinating stuff from Pope Pius IX, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Essentially, he claims that if Mary was not immaculately conceived, her free consent at the Annunciation came (in however small part) from her own sinful nature, and not entirely from grace, thus making salvation history dependent upon a human action—“the very apogee of Pelagianism.”

Packer’s paper, however, was a real let-down. He sets Mary forth as a model of obedience, but spends nearly half the paper clearing his throat, listing his assumptions and letting us know he will not bother to defend them. The rest is, as he describes it, a “plain Bible study” of Luke (and John). More about Luke and his authorial methods than about Mary, I thought. And it doesn’t consider any of the soteriological questions that Oakes was concerned with. Boo. It is like he and Oakes are talking next to each other, but not to each other. Authorial freedom is great, but so is dialogue and discursive continuity.

Not surprisingly, Packer does not believe in any of the Catholic teachings on Mary. He almost seems to disagree on some level even with the Anglican Church’s handling of Mary: he says he has “been drilled” on the Magnificat, and that “England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer teaches” him to celebrate Mary’s feast days—i.e., were it not for the BCP, it would not have occurred to Packer to give her that much liturgical attention.

Shekhar Kapur’s “Elizabeth” (1999)

November 15, 2007

Just re-watched this tonight. I had seen it some years ago, but I know more about Elizabeth, her counsellors, and the various European intrigues than I did the first time around. I can only say that it was an unceasing pshaw-fest.

Among the many, many things to take issue with in the movie: the narrative jumps from Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 to her excommunication by the pope in 1570 in mere minutes. Since the actors do not appear to age during the movie, I was thinking we were still in 1560 or so. But no. It’s now 1570 and later, and Daniel Craig (the new James Bond) is playing a wicked Catholic priest (the only kind there was in that time) coming to assassinate Elizabeth.

At least two people are way too old for their characters: William Cecil looks like he’s about 80 at the beginning of the movie in the mid-1550s, but he was actually only in his 30s. He died in 1598 just shy of 78 years old. And Francis Walsingham looks like he’s in his late 50s when he comes back from exile in 1558, but really he was only about 26.

At the end, text on a black screen informs the viewer that “Elizabeth reigned for another forty years. Walsingham remained her most trusted and loyal advisor to the end.” Well, the movie ends with the execution of the Duke of Norfolk in 1572. That would mean Elizabeth reigned until 1612, which is 9 years past the actual date of her death.

As for Walsingham being her most trusted and loyal advisor: this doesn’t account for William Cecil or Christopher Hatton, both of whom very much had the Queen’s ear for very many years. But more importantly, Walsingham died in 1590. I guess Shekhar Kapur may be right, then, but only if you interpret “the end” in a very specific way. At any rate, it doesn’t communicate how Elizabeth treated her “most trusted” advisor. When he bankrupted himself paying off his dead son-in-law‘s creditors, and paying for his lavish funeral, Elizabeth wouldn’t contribute a penny to his plight. He died broke, and had to be buried at night so no funeral costs would be incurred.

It’s not called “the Golden Age” for nothing.