Friday, November 16, 2007

Blair becoming Catholic: You saw it here...second

From the Daily Telegraph comes news that Tony Blair will become Catholic within the next few weeks. Would it be too much to ask London Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor (or whomever receives him into the Church officially) to go over a few basic items such as the need to defend innocent life, the serious moral criteria required in an assessment to go to war, not to mention a few other things that the Blair government so glibly overlooked between 1997 and 2007? Just asking.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dégénération: Shockwaves follow an apparently popular musical confrontation with cultural liberalism

Here is the wildly popular song Dégénération', by Mes Aïeux, a Quebecois troupe. Like no other cultural event in recent memory, it signals a turn away from the standard social and political liberalism in Quebec.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Criticizing Dershowitz (being careful not to get sued)

A fine example of a journalist doing the job that somehow many expect only of ivory tower academics or ethicists. Three cheers for... analysis in the press (albeit in the already highbrow FT)!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Catching on to Affluenza

This new book by Oliver James, titled Affluenza, was reviewed in the TLS recently. Here is a review of it from the Guardian last winter. The book argues apparently that selfish capitalism is ruining us. It's so bad that it behaves like a virus that kills us from within. James seems to have condensed much of what Naomi Klein and other leftist thinkers have been saying, only in a more socially and psychologically informed way. The one negaitive reaction to this book I see comes from a reviewer whose claim to fame is a book titled Rich is Beautiful. No moral ambiguity there.

Pity though - on the basis of three reviews quickly scanned, no substantive religious or theological diagnosis of what's happened since the sixteenth century is forthcoming (which James apparently describes as western societies' increasing level of unhappiness since that century specifically!). Guess that work will have to be carried by others...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Right, no..wrong,...I mean left, not that left, the other kind

This is the kind of anecdote that lends credence to a left conservatism...


I know it's way past tiresome to say so by now, but it really is true that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are like a tag team - aiding and abetting while issuing ridiculously simplistic explanations for why religion is always and everywhere bad. You can read Dawkins' review of Hitch's book here - it comes from the TLS. This is relevant, because in comparison with the other higher brow reviews in that estimable publication, this one reads like something stuck on a student bulletin board. Dawkins has got nothing new to say; it would be dull were it not for the quotes from Hitch's book. That Belfast - B story that is repeated here... I have read that one about 5 times now in various places, including ( if I recall) in Hitchens Atlantic monthly column. I think this atheism thing has peaked. Next story please.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Harvey Mansfield on the Atheists

I would generally be reluctant to endorse much of what is contained in The Weekly Standard, since it appears to be deaf to any manner of proposals for a social justice dimension of public policy, but this article on the Atheist Attack of 2007 is excellent - by Harvey Mansfield of Harvard:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Continuing Relevance of the Barmen Declaration

May 31, 2007 is the 73rd. anniversary of the signing of the Barmen Decalaration, whose signatories included Karl Barth and which is an important document in understanding the theology and eventual martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The text of the declaration is included in the Barmen Declaration, available here:

"Scripture tells us that, in the as yet unredeemed world in which the Church also exists, the State has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace. [It fulfills this task] by means of the threat and exercise of force, according to the measure of human judgment and human ability. The Church acknowledges the benefit of this divine appointment in gratitude and reverence before him. It calls to mind the Kingdom of God, God's commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word by which God upholds all things.8.23 We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church's vocation as well. "

The relevance of the Barmen Declaration should ne noted for contemporary debates in church-state relations. For instance, a number of academics and think thankers on the secular left have recently advocated (in Canada anyway - there were suggestions that made their way into a couple op-ed pieces) for the establishment of government certification boards which could vet those persons seeking ordained ministry and equivalent certifications in non-Christian religious bodies. There is an authoritarian ring to such suggestions which needs pointing out.

The Barmen Decalration is perhaps more relevant than anyone might have supposed several years ago, and of course I make this suggestion fully mindful of the abusive and grossly uncharitable language that many religious fundamentalists continue to spew against various minorities. The proper response to bad theology is good theology, not state regulation of churches.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

And Larry arnhart has commented rather shrewdly I think on Mansfield's lecture. Here-- scroll down.

Going to the Heart of It

This lecture transcript is from Harvey Mansfield. It is capacious and captivating:

Paul Allen

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Note from the announcement on Charles Taylor's winning the 2007 Templeton prize: This has to be the quote of the year:

“The deafness of many philosophers, social scientists and historians to the spiritual dimensions can be remarkable,” Taylor said in remarks prepared for the news conference. “This is the more damaging in that it affects the culture of the media and of educated public opinion in general."

See this news item for more.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


This blog is for theologically oriented people who are broadly sympathetic toward both a social conservative political philosophy and the social democratic / liberal political traditions. More to come!