Leon Kass’s grand tour of humanity

Last night’s 2009 National Endowment for the Humanities Lecture with Leon Kass was, unsurprisingly, superb. Kass, who among other things assembled the first President’s Council on Bioethics, is the epitome of a renaissance man due to his diverse background of study, gave a lecture entitled, “Searching for an Honest Man: Reflections of an Unlicensed Humanist.” … Read more

History, principle, and the now

D.A. Carson on the value of Christians continually appealing to the notion that America was founded on Christian principles: In the long haul, Christians have to appeal farther back than to the middle of the eighteenth century — to the Scriptures themselves, and the events to which they attest — and think through to where … Read more

The end of the world as we know it

What would the world be like without humans? If a recent special on the National Geographic Channel is correct, it would be much better off.  “Aftermath: Population Zero” takes a hypothetical look (and I emphasize the hypo) at what would happen should every human on the planet suddenly disappear.  From the show’s description: This is … Read more

Nonfailure is not an option

Writing on the nature of our cultural mood, Marilynne Robinson contrasts a time when “meaning had a larger frame and context than this life in this world,” to what our civilization aims for today: I think the true name for what we aspire to is nonfailure.  Most of those who are household names in this … Read more

Is the internet messing with our minds?

Nicholas Carr is right on target with his suggestion that the internet may be changing the way we think. In a provocative, must-read piece in the current issue of The Atlantic, Carr argues that the fast-paced bite-sized world of internet reading is not innocuous: …Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that … Read more

The sexual ‘revolution’ that keeps on turning

I saw last week about half a minute of VH1’s documentary “Sex: The Revolution”, which seemed to relish in the notion that the “advances” in sexual behavior that occur today were brought about by the libidinous free-wheeling of the 60’s and 70’s. Off with the old American puritanism, it seemed to say. Last week, I … Read more

Technology and rightness

This Associated Press piece on “designer babies” highlights how — for some — the ability to do something is sufficient grounds for its rightness: But Kathy Hudson, director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., said she’s not troubled by the work. She said the idea of successfully modifying babies by inserting … Read more

Hidden in plain sight?

From a front-page story in today’s Washington Post on Internet safety: Alan Portillo didn’t think much, if at all, about his online vulnerability. Then the 15-year-old heard technology teacher Wendy Maitland list three pieces of information an online predator would need to find him. Birth date, she said. Alan’s age was on his e-mail. Gender. … Read more

Adventures in words

Daniel Boorstin on word overusage in America: The word “adventure” has become one of the blandest in the language. The cheap cafeteria at the corner offers us an “adventure in good eating”; a course in self-development … in a few weeks will transform our daily conversation into a “great adventure”; to ride in the new … Read more

Evangelical espionage

Just how crazy are those wacky evangelicals? Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone wanted to find out, so he went “Undercover with the Christian Right” by immersing himself in the world of TBN star John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. There’s much not to like about the methods that Taibbi employed for the piece, which is an excerpt … Read more