What is this Christmas of which you speak?
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT
Me: Who’s stupid enough to try stealing a police cruiser?
Emily: When you need a ride, man, you need a ride.
THE GREAT EXPERIMENT - NY TIMES
Anybody can form a perfect Norway, a nation of five million people. But there is no country on earth with our size, our racial diversity, our mix of religions that is close to bringing most of its citizens the rights and comforts of the modern age.The overall view of the column is more positive than I tend to be, but this is a wonderful line and quite true.
The Great Experiment - NY Times
Emily’s birthday flowers
DAVID BROOKS - RULES FOR CRAFTSMEN
The governing craftsman has to be able to know how many votes each side possesses. He has to avoid the narcissistic question: What do I want? He has to ask instead: Given this correlation of forces, what is the landscape offering me?Read the whole thing; this is the essence of governance, nearly all of the time.
David Brooks - Rules for Craftsmen
HOW THE CIA USED A FAKE SCI-FI FLICK TO RESCUE AMERICANS
The CIA was in chaos when Tony Mendez arrived at his desk the next morning. People dashed through the halls, clutching files and papers. Desks were piling up with “flash” cables — the highest-priority messages, reserved for wartime situations.Not a caper movie, but a real movie caper.
How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans
BENEDICT ON VATICAN II: “I REMEMBER I WAS A YOUNG PROFESSOR OFTHEOLOGY…”
One sometimes forgets the power of simple phrases such as “I remember…” for opening and sharing an experience.
Benedict on Vatican II: “I remember I was a young professor of theology…”
RENO ON CONTEMPORARY CATHOLIC THEOLOGY
One of the best rundowns I’ve seen; highly recommended for any of my students.
Reno on contemporary Catholic theology
PAPER OF RECORD OR CHURCH BULLETIN OF THE LEFT?
This is one of the wonderful things about a mainstream press. It can help promote civil discourse, rational thinking and an improved society (I thought this recent debate led by a New York Times religion writer was a good step in the right direction). When the paper of record becomes a particularly virulent propaganda arm for one side in the culture war, those things don’t happen — and I hope we can agree no matter which side we take on hot-button cultural issues.Paper of record or church bulletin of the left?
SUNDAY COMICS LINE OF THE DAY
Rob: It’s trendy.
Bucky (the cat): Really? It’s trendy to look like the guy who got fired as the village idiot at the Renaissance fair due to hygiene issues?
NINETEEN SIXTY-FOUR: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE...
Deconstructing the economic incompetence of The Economist when it comes to understanding the Catholic Church. TL;DR is “The Church is not Wal-Mart.”
Nineteen Sixty-four: Spot the difference…
THE CHURCH'S DEEP POCKETS, THE BUTLER DID IT, AND MYTHS ABOUT ATHEISM - JOHN ALLEN
John Allen’s column at NCR is a fairly significant proof for the theology of the saving remnant. Essential Friday reading, every week.
The church's deep pockets, the butler did it, and myths about atheism - John Allen
THE NEW YORK TIMES’ EMBARRASSING ERROR
I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I have a new Exhibit A for when I tell my students that mainstream media know nothing of religion or theology. Click the link.
The New York Times’ embarrassing error
MATT RIDLEY: WHEN BAD THEORIES HAPPEN TO GOOD SCIENTISTS
The origin of our tendency to confirmation bias is fairly obvious. Our brains were not built to find the truth but to make pragmatic judgments, check them cheaply and win arguments, whether we are in the right or in the wrong.Matt Ridley: When Bad Theories Happen to Good Scientists
FLYING UNDER THE INFLUENCE - BY @DRUNKENPREDATOR
Every morning, the hangar doors roll open and the sunlight flares my electro-optical sensors. I drag myself onto the flight line, load up my pylons with Hellfire and Griffin missiles, and try to get some coffee into my tank before takeoff. If all goes well, I lumber into the air, loiter over some godforsaken warzone du jour, and occasionally lob weaponry at those I’m told are the enemies of the free world. By broad consensus, I’m pretty good at my job — and when I’m not soaring above the mountains of Afghanistan or Yemen, I even find time for hobbies, like posting on Twitter. But after I return to base, I self-medicate with extreme prejudice. Because I’m a Predator drone, and you people make me drink.Flying Under the Influence - By @Drunkenpredator
Allow me to explain.
HOW BOOKS LEARN - ALAN JACOBS
In light of this long, long history, during which the poem has had to learn so much, adapt to so many circumstances, how could it be intimidated by the rise of electronic reading? “Why should I concern myself with bits and pixels? I remember the harried scribe with his papyrus sheets. I was once a song.”How Books Learn - Alan Jacobs
WHAT IS IT TO BE INTELLECTUALLY HUMBLE? | BIG QUESTIONS ONLINE
Intellectual humility will be a trait of our character when we care so much about knowing, understanding, and getting to the truth of some big question that we become oblivious of how we rank, of what we are “worth” vis-à-vis the other status-striving agents in our circle. The apostle Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up,” (1 Corinthians 8:1) and we might add that love of knowledge can build us up in humility.What Is It to be Intellectually Humble? | Big Questions Online
VALUING DIVERSITY OF IDEAS
Dump the stereotypes. Dave Barry and others ask if we really believe all red state residents are dumb, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, NASCAR-obsessed, gun-fondling, Bible-bullying, redneck, sweatshop tycoons who claim government doesn’t work, and then get elected and prove it; or that all blue-state residents are godless, unpatriotic, ear-pierced, Volvo-driving, latte-sucking, tofu-chomping, tax- crazed bleeding-hearts who presume people shouldn’t have to work and beg our enemies, “Please don’t hurt me.” Seek out people with different beliefs.Valuing Diversity of Ideas
THE DEMOCRATIC VIRTUES OF JOHN ROBERTS - ROSS DOUTHAT
I have all sorts of problems with the health care bill, and I found the constitutional case against the individual mandate relatively compelling. But the solution to faulty legislation is usually better legislation, and the Supreme Court isn’t the only branch of government that’s responsible for upholding the Constitution. The specifics of Roberts’ umpiring may have left something to be desired, but given the temptations associated with his office, there’s something to be said for the fact that he let the two sides keep on playing ball.Exactly so!
The Democratic Virtues of John Roberts - Ross Douthat
6 WAYS THE IPHONE CHANGED HIGHER ED | INSIDE HIGHER ED
The way to think about the iPhone in relation to higher ed is less as a single product but a new product category. This category, which includes Android/Google and maybe eventually the Windows 8 phones, equals smart phone plus an app ecosystem.6 Ways the iPhone Changed Higher Ed | Inside Higher Ed
JONATHAN HAIDT: HE KNOWS WHY WE FIGHT - WSJ.COM
Nobody who engages in political argument, and who isn’t a moron, hasn’t had to recognize the fact that decent, honest, intelligent people can come to opposite conclusions on public issues.Jonathan Haidt: He Knows Why We Fight - WSJ.com
CHECKING YOUR FACEBOOK PRIVACY (AGAIN) - PROFHACKER
Time to check the settings; one of those recurrent FB tasks that everyone should do on a regular schedule.
Checking Your Facebook Privacy (Again) - ProfHacker
MARC THIESSEN: OBAMA’S BETRAYAL OF PROGRESSIVE CATHOLICS CARRIES A PRICE
The fact is President Obama betrayed progressive Catholics who stuck their necks out for him.So very true, and the test of an honest progressive Catholic (e.g., Michael Sean Winters) vs. a partisan hack ( E. J. Dionne) is to recognize it.
Marc Thiessen: Obama’s betrayal of progressive Catholics carries a price
POLITICAL "SCIENCE" AND ITS FORECASTING FAILURES | RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD |BIG THINK
Generally, political science does its best work when it begins with the perspectives of the statesman (or political leader) and the citizen and then goes on to refine and enlarge what’s seen about political life by those who are actually engaged in it. The attempt to impose a scientific perspective alien to the phenomena almost always leads us to see a lot less than is really there.Political "Science" and Its Forecasting Failures | Rightly Understood | Big Think
DIARY FROM VATICAN II
Good piece from Fr. Robert Barron looking back on the Council through Congar’s diary.
Diary from Vatican II
DAVID KARPF: UVA BOARD'S LAZY BUSINESS SENSE
A modern-day Good Will Hunting might gain his education through MIT’s online lectures rather than a Boston public library card, but the great mass of privileged 18-year-olds will keep heading off to college. Neither the University of Phoenix nor MIT’s online courses offer a replacement for the college experience that students are currently paying for. And competition does not equal disruption.David Karpf: UVA Board's Lazy Business Sense
THE NEW ATLANTIS » CHRISTIANITY AND THE FUTURE OF THE BOOK
Christians are, as the Koran says, “People of the Book”; in which case we might want to ask what will become of Christianity if “the book” is radically transformed or abandoned altogether.The New Atlantis » Christianity and the Future of the Book
RAIDERS OF THE LOST RELICS
many of the Bible-related archaeological claims made in recent years have been tainted with “exaggeration and speculation the likes of which haven’t been seen since pieces of the ‘true cross’ were found all across Europe in the Middle Ages.”Raiders of the Lost Relics
MEASURABLE OUTCOMES VS. HIGHER EDUCATION?
Reading tough books carefully—attending to textual details, considering the diverse ways of life of and predicaments faced by the characters, following arguments, writing accurately and thoughtfully about their contents, applying what what you’ve learned to your own way of life and personal predicaments—is usually justified these days by the outcomes of critical thinking and analytic reasoning. I, for one, am impressed by how murky these phrases turn out to be, and how questionable—to say the least—are the standardized devices that have been invented to measure them.Measurable Outcomes vs. Higher Education?
WHEN IT COMES TO RELIGION, EVERYBODY’S AN EXPERT
As I would not opine seriously on the best procedures to follow with respect to open-heart surgery (as I have absolutely no medical training), why are so many others who have never had anything to do with religion so quick to comment on serious matters of religion?So very, very many. Interesting answer in the piece as well.
When it comes to religion, everybody’s an expert
DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THEOLOGY . . . - WEIGEL
There is ample room for exploration on Catholic theology; for if theology is not religious studies, neither is it catechism. But for that exploration to be authentically Catholic — and thus of use to the Church — it has to take Scripture and Tradition as its baseline, and it has to begin from the premise that the doctrinal boundaries of the Church, rooted in Scripture and Tradition, point exploratory theology in the right direction.Don’t Know Much about Theology . . . - Weigel
ZUCKERBERG DIDN’T KILL PRIVACY
Question: ‘Why did Facebook go public?’Zuckerberg didn’t kill privacy
Answer: ‘They couldn’t figure out the privacy settings either.’
OF FLYING CARS AND THE DECLINING RATE OF PROFIT
Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now?A bit to the Left, but good questions all the same.
Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit
ENGLISH IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY - AN OVERVIEW : OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY
obfuscatory polysyllabic officialese
Phrase of the day!
English in the twentieth century - an overview : Oxford English Dictionary
THE REAL EQUALITY PROBLEM: NO ONE ACTUALLY WANTS IT
Good parents try to provide the best they can for their kids. Good employees try to advance as far as they can at work. Good athletes try to become the go-to player for their teams. Good entrepreneurs try to create and grow a business that is better than its competitors. In fact, it’s safe to say that no reasonable, diligent person strives for “equality” in their own personal circumstances — regardless of whether one refers to equality of opportunity or equality of outcome.
All of this is painfully obvious — or should be — but that doesn’t stop the Left from often wrongly equating inequality with inequity and seeking ever greater and more intrusive regulation to create a world than can never be and no one really wants.
The Real Equality Problem: No One Actually Wants It
THE FOURTH REVOLUTION (NEW CRITERION)
The United States has been shaped by three far-reaching political revolutions: Thomas Jefferson’s “revolution of 1800,” the Civil War, and the New Deal. Each of these upheavals concluded with lasting institutional and cultural adjustments that set the stage for new phases of political and economic development. Are we on the verge of a new upheaval, a “fourth revolution” that will reshape U.S. politics for decades to come? There are signs to suggest that we are.
The Fourth Revolution (New Criterion)
THE AMAZON EFFECT
The bookstore wars are over. Independents are battered, Borders is dead, Barnes & Noble weakened but still standing and Amazon triumphant. Yet still there is no peace; a new war rages for the future of publishing.
The Amazon Effect
GOING PAPERLESS ON A MAC - PROFHACKER
It’s the 21st century, I really should try to do this.
Going Paperless on a Mac - ProfHacker
THE FIRST WIRED PRESIDENT
Lincoln saw his first telegraph key only three years before he ran for president, in a hotel lobby while riding circuit in Pekin, Ill. Always fascinated with technology, he peppered the operator with questions.
In the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, but entirely non-fictional!
The First Wired President
BXVI AD LIMINA TALKS
Every five years or so, by tradition, the bishops of a given country make ad limina visits to Rome. Centuries old, the practice is a way of maintaining communion with the universal Church. It also offers the pope a chance to comment on the state of the Church in that country.
The bishops of the United States are just finishing up their visits, broken up into five batches, which makes it a convenient time to tally up all five of Benedict XVI’s addresses to them. Thanks to Whispers in the Loggia, here they are:
- Whispers in the Loggia: “The Demand of a New Evangelization”: From B16’s Desk, Bench Talk 1
- Whispers in the Loggia: “The Most Cherished of Freedoms”: On Religious Freedom and the Public Square, B16 Talks The States
- Whispers in the Loggia: To the States, B16 Talks Sexuality
- Whispers in the Loggia: To the States, The “Professor-Pope” Talks Education
- Whispers in the Loggia: “New Signs of Vitality and Hope”: For US Church, The Pope’s Last Word
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A DEGREE IN THEOLOGY?
Wonderful post in this graduation month of May; it definitely reflects my experience of these past ten years as I look back and see where our BAC majors have gone.
What can you do with a degree in theology?
A HIGHER OFFICE
Fr. Thomas Williams (no relation) on Catholic social teaching; good interview!
A Higher Office
CONFUSED BY THE EBOOK LAWSUIT? SO IS EVERYONE ELSE.
Still don’t think reinforcing Amazon’s monopsony is the thing to do.
Confused By the eBook Lawsuit? So Is Everyone else.
WHAT DISTINGUISHES ‘EVANGELICAL’ FROM ‘FUNDAMENTALIST’?
Very useful discussion, especially given how loosely people use the term “fundamentalist.”
What Distinguishes ‘Evangelical’ from ‘Fundamentalist’?
NT STUDIES AND THE SEPTUAGINT
I’ve often wondered this same thing. There has to be a systematic theological argument out there for the ongoing significance of the LXX, expanding on Augustine and taking into account that it remains authoritative for the Eastern Church.
NT Studies and the Septuagint
THE PLEASURES AND PERILS OF THE PASSIVE
Another one for my students, too often taught to slavishly avoid the passive even when their style or arguments would be improved by it.
The Pleasures and Perils of the Passive
DOWNTON ABBEY IS THE EDWARDIAN BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Priceless for the opening illustration alone.
Downton Abbey is the Edwardian Battlestar Galactica
JOEL OSTEEN WORSHIPS HIMSELF
The constant recitation of God’s transcendent goodness and the deference paid to his ironclad ability to lift believers magically out of suffering and woe both subtly downgrade the divine presence into a glorified lifestyle concierge. This God has no real way of accounting for the age-old paradoxes of theology, such as the tolerance of personal and historic evil, or the deeper ironies and unintended consequences of the believing life.
The Prosperity Gospel is heresy in a clown suit.
Joel Osteen worships himself
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH MOVES FROM ROLE TO ROLE
the success of “Sherlock,” the television series that casts him as a cool and contemporary — if brutally rational — upgrade of Sherlock Holmes. It returns on May 6 for a second season on PBS’s “Masterpiece Mystery!”
So looking forward to this.
Benedict Cumberbatch Moves From Role to Role
SOCIAL MEDIA'S SMALL, POSITIVE ROLE IN HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS
For most people, the choice is not leisurely walks on Cape Cod versus social media. It’s television versus social media.
Social Media's Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships
THE MIGHTY SCRIVENER… YOU MIGHT NOT EVER USE WORD FOR WRITING AGAIN
Follow-up to the Word post, with a light intro to Scrivener, aka the Batman of writing tools.
The Mighty Scrivener… You might not ever use word for writing again
THE COMING BOOK WARS: APPLE VS. AMAZON VS. GOOGLE VS. THE U.S.
A good description of the darkling plain.
The Coming Book Wars: Apple vs. Amazon vs. Google vs. the U.S.
MICROSOFT WORD: 5 MISUSES AND 7 ALTERNATIVES
Something for the students as they write their papers. I see every one of these misuses and more besides. It’s enough to make me start doing a course just on digital workflows and academic tools.
Microsoft Word: 5 misuses and 7 alternatives
NOTES ON POLL-WATCHING
Essential tips for reading the deluge of polls that we’ll experience between now and November; general wisdom for every strain of partisan, completely independent of political views, from Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com.
Notes on Poll-Watching
Q & A: ROSS DOUTHAT ON ROOTING OUT BAD RELIGION
Buy the book; I am.
Q & A: Ross Douthat on Rooting Out Bad Religion
HOW THE FIRST CHRISTIANS UNDERSTOOD JESUS' RESURRECTION
Historically, then, how Christians have understood Jesus’ “resurrection” says a lot about how they have understood themselves, whether they have a holistic view of the human person, whether they see bodily existence as trivial or crucial, and how they imagine full salvation to be manifested.
How the first Christians understood Jesus' resurrection
WHY WAS JESUS CRUCIFIED?
Apropos for the day, from one of the best NT scholars I know of, and just the thing for some common misconceptions.
Why Was Jesus Crucified?
REVISION AND READING ALOUD
A better explanation of what I always tell my students!
Revision and Reading Aloud
WHAT TO WRITE DOWN DURING A CLASS LECTURE
Something for the students or auditors among us.
What to Write Down During a Class Lecture