Category Archives: culture + politics

happy halloween

From Radio Free Babylon. Those guys are amazing, really. They’re motto is “pray with your eyes open,” which I take to mean be aware of the surrounding culture and its trappings (or, as the case may be, its opportunities for expressing the Gospel).

Their motto also seems to be “making fun of oneself is healthy.” With which I heartily agree.

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no easy day

There is no honor in sending people to die for something you won’t even fight for yourself.

Mark Owen, pseudonymous author of No Easy Day, a recent autobiographical account of the SEAL mission that killed Osama bin Laden. The author is speaking of bin Laden, whose personal weapons were found unloaded. But the same could be said (curious that he doesn’t say it, isn’t it?) about George Bush. Or about Obama. Or Romney.

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markets and morality

Not only has the dominance of the market had a corrosive effect on the social landscape. It has also eroded our moral vocabulary, arguably our most important resource in thinking about the future.[…] In the public domain, the two terms that dominate contemporary discourse are autonomy and rights, which share the mentality of the market by emphasizing choice while ruling out the possibility that there might be objective grounds for making one choice rather than another. This has made it very difficult for us to deliberate collectively about some of the most fateful choices, environmental, political, and economic, humanity has ever faced.

Chief Rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks, in The Dignity of Difference, p. 32.

(Just how pervasive is the market mentality may be seen in how seamlessly Rabbi Sacks praises “the spread of birth control techniques” as an unqualified good which will “remove the danger of overpopulation” only eight pages previous.)

a thanksgiving lesson in forgiveness

From the Nov/Dec edition of Orion. I’ll buy a beer for the commenter who can pinpoint my favorite line from this article.

In related news, our gov’ner here in Orygun declared today an indefinite moratorium on the death penalty. After a few moments of applause–after all, I’m an obedient anti-capital punishment pacifist like the rest of ’em–I began thinking that this might be a more laudable move if it represented an attempt to institute a holistic approach to peace and the respect of human life.

As it turns out, however, it does not. Kitzhaber is pro-choice (see this article from the 2010 election here) and Oregon is one of the most lax states on euthanasia. (Ironically, it also has one of the highest suicide ratings.)

Allow me a few more paragraphs to drive this point home.

Kitzhaber’s decision to forestall the death penalty arrives two weeks shy of Gary Haugen’s scheduled execution. Currently, the only way to get executed in Oregon is by asking for it. Literally. You have to “volunteer,” relinquishing intentions to any future appeals and requesting–formally, before a judge–to be executed.

So what’s the State of Oregon telling its residents?

Well, it’s OK to request to be killed if you’re not in prison (euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are legal), but it’s not OK to request to be killed if you’re in prison (death penalty is on moratorium). Oh, and it’s really bad to kill yourself (suicide is frowned upon), but you can kill your unborn babies (abortion is legal).

All this comes to a head in Kitzhaber’s rhetoric when he claims that it was his physician’s oath to “do no harm” that led him to the decision about the death penalty. Hmm.. Where is that oath when you whitewash abortion as “women’s health”? Where is it when you enable physicians to help their patients kill themselves?

Let me be clear: I’m not arguing for a social ethic that ignores the complexity that each and every one of these issues harbors. There’s no “one answer” to everything. But I am arguing for coherence among the legislation that shapes us as a culture and as a community. I’d like to see a compelling vision of human flourishing govern the way we conduct ourselves in Oregon–not a patch-quilt of politically-motivated legislation to appease these constituents at one point in the cycle and these others and a different point.

Is that such a naive hope?

rick perry versus God

Is God really telling Rick Perry to run for president?

It’s interesting to note that his remarks at the Response are theologically sound and responsible. But we’ve been warned that the Antichrist will likely appear in the same fashion..

david brooks on socially acceptable inequality

This is genius.

the scandal of the evangelical mind, updated

For those of you who don’t subscribe.