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Evangelical Future

Are evangelicals moving toward a nonpolitical future?

Repentant for having spent a generation bowing at the altars of church growth and political power, concerned evangelicals gathered last week (Oct. 13-15) to search the soul of their movement and find a new way forward.

That evangelicals, who compose a quarter of the American population, must refocus on shaping authentic disciples of Jesus Christ has always garnered wide support. But how to do that in a consumerist society with little appetite for self-denial is fueling internal debate.

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2010 Cars

2010 car preview from MSN.

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Enemies List

Tom Bevan has an excellent column concerning the White House attack on FOX News.

Every White House complains about its press coverage. A contentious relationship between the Executive Branch and a free and independent media is part of America’s DNA. Always has been.

But this White House seems to feel they’re different. It’s not just that the current occupant of the Oval Office has a particularly thin skin when it comes to criticism – which is especially ironic given that he’s been the recipient of more glowing press coverage than possibly any candidate or president in modern American history. But not since Nixon conjured up an “enemies list” have we seen the full weight of the Office of the Presidency brought to bear in such a targeted and deliberate effort to delegitimize a media organization critical of the President.

When Communications Director Anita Dunn first announced the White House’s war against FOX News last week, many people from across the political spectrum dismissed it as silly. But two of the administration’s heaviest hitters, Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, went on the Sunday talk shows and made clear that the White House’s attempt to delegitimize FOX News is deadly serious.

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Philosophy and Theology

Peter Kreeft on Why Study Philosophy and Theology here.

Here is one of the clearest criteria for choosing or judging a college: you can be almost certain that any college that has dropped philosophy and theology from its core curriculum is not serious about a liberal arts education. And in my experience I find that this is true of many of the colleges in America.

This raises two questions: (1) What are philosophy and theology, and why are they crucial to a young person’s education today? (2) Aren’t they outdated, impractical, abstract, irrelevant, elitist, superfluous and even dangerous to faith and sanity?

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SuperFreakonomics

What happens when you don’t toe the company line on global warming. The Anatomy of a Smear here.

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Coolest Towns

America’s 10 coolest small towns according to MSNBC.

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Augustine, Manichaeism and the Good

Augustine, Manichaeism and the Good is a 238 page dissertation by Kam-Lun E. Lee.

This thesis will investigate, by means of the historical-critical method, Augustine of Hippo’s understanding of the Manichaean idea of the Good, and how this understanding affects his own related notions of summum bonum and personal evil, and, as a corollary, his doctrine of predestination. The question of a possible Manichaean influence is particularly pertinent because Manichaeism is at heart a dualistic solution to the issue of good and evil. The focus is not on Manichaeism per se but on Augustine’s perception of it, as more directly affecting his thinking.

You can read the first 25 pages here (pdf) or download the complete book for $6.00 here.

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The Thomistic Tradition

Edward Feser has two posts on The Thomistic Tradition.

I had originally intended to include in chapter 1 of Aquinas a brief overview of the history of Thomism. But as things turned out, the book was running too long, and since the section in question did not fit entirely smoothly into the chapter anyway, my editor and I decided to cut it out. Still, since it might be useful to readers looking for a quick rundown on the (often bewildering) variety of schools of thought that have developed within the Thomist tradition, here it is. (It begins a bit abruptly; it was meant to come immediately after the section on “Aquinas’s life and works,” and refers back to some issues raised in that section.) I’ve broken it into two parts: this post covers the history of Thomism up through the mid twentieth century; the second will cover analytical Thomism and offer some recommendations for further reading.

Part I here and Part II here.

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Saving God

Here’s a NDPR review of Mark Johnston’s Saving God: Religion After Idolatry.

Saving God is a rich and provocative book. It aims to “save God” from idolatrous believers, who take God to be largely concerned with the welfare and destiny of human creatures. Banning idolatry, Johnston is led to a panentheistic conception of “the Highest One,” who (or which) is not separable from Nature. With echoes of Spinoza and, to a lesser extent, Whitehead, Johnston takes Supernaturalism to be spiritually irrelevant, as well as idolatrous.

Mark Johnston is the Walter Cerf Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. You can read the first chapter of Saving God here. (pdf)

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Bitter Rift

Barbara Bradley Hagerty on the bitter rift that divides atheists.

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Religion Dispatches

Occasionally I link to stories posted at Religion Dispatches even though most of the time I highly disagree with their (progressive) viewpoint. Here’s how RD defines their mission.

Religion Dispatches is a daily online magazine dedicated to the analysis and understanding of religious forces in the world today, highlighting a diversity of progressive voices and aimed at broadening and advancing the public conversation.

The problem is that by highlighting a “diversity of progressive voices” it fails to “broaden and advance the public conversation.” In the last paragraph of their mission statement, RD states:

Religion Dispatches will provide information and analysis, and critical and constructive perspectives on public issues that explicitly or implicitly intersect with religion and values. It aims to foster thoughtful, informed, and engaged reflection on religion that is too often missing from the public debate. It will exemplify a form of public scholarship and reflection that contributes to a broad conversation on religion that respects multiple voices and avoids becoming an extension of singular political interests.

Looking at a post from today, let’s see how well Religion Dispatches follows their own mission statement.

In reviewing the book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, Frederick Clarkson starts out with the following.

On Thursday, September 17, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was moving through a typical press briefing when she was asked about the escalation of violent rhetoric in public discourse. The California Democrat suddenly became uncharacteristically emotional, requesting that people tone it down and recalling the 1978 assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk as an outgrowth of the hate-filled discourse of its time. Warning that people might have to “take responsibility for any incitement that [the person’s words] may cause,” Pelosi could scarcely have come up with a better example to illustrate a major theme of David Neiwert’s latest book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right.

So, one might ask, how does the fact that this reviewer distorts the assassination of Milk and Moscone by repeating the Pelosi lie, fit in with the RD mission statement to “avoid becoming an extension of singular political interests?” The fact is, it doesn’t. Not only that, by using a false example to “illustrate a major theme” of a new book, it calls into question the veracity of the review. As City Journal noted after Mark Leno introduced legislation to proclaim a “Harvey Milk Day” (since signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger):

Their murderer, troubled political neophyte Dan White, had donated $100 to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which would have empowered school boards to fire teachers for homosexuality. White hired a homosexual as his campaign manager and voted as a city supervisor to fund a Pride Center for homosexuals. White wasn’t driven to murder by Milk’s vision of gay rights but rather by something more pedestrian: the petty politics of City Hall. What makes for good history doesn’t always lend itself to good theater.

In a sign of the instability he would so dramatically display on November 27, a cash-strapped White had resigned his seat on the Board of Supervisors on November 10, only to demand four days later that the mayor reappoint him. Mayor Moscone publicly responded by saying that he still regarded White as a member of the board, handed back his letter of resignation, and promised him the seat. Enter Harvey Milk, who saw White as an obstacle to progressive initiatives. As the movie depicts, Milk successfully lobbied Moscone to refuse to reseat the former policeman, fireman, and Vietnam veteran. Believing Milk and Moscone guilty of perfidy, the tightly wound, sore-loser White assassinated Moscone and then Milk.

The murder of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk had nothing to do with partisan politics, Dan White was, in fact, a Democrat. This is just one example of how Religion Dispatches often fails to “foster thoughtful, informed, and engaged reflection” on so many stories that they report. Maybe it’s time for RD to live up to their mission statement, or change it to more accurately reflect their rather biased viewpoint.

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The Clinton Tapes

The New York Review of Books has an article on The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President by Taylor Branch.

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Defending Limbaugh

Doctor Zero has another excellent post, this time regarding Rush Limbaugh.

The events of the past week were about more than simply thwarting Limbaugh’s desire to buy into a football team. There was the naked greed of parasites like Al Sharpton, desperate to maintain his relevance in a world that has wisely stripped him of the power to destroy a man’s life with a phony rape allegation, or launch murderous riots. There was the blind personal hatred of Limbaugh, by people who long ago tired of watching him rewrite their plans for the part of America that refuses to submit to them. And, of course, this was the latest offensive in a bitter war against the ideas that Limbaugh has long served, as their most cheerful and effective defender. Limbaugh’s enemies in that war are angry because they’re frightened. They’re frightened because all of their estimates and projections said they should have been able to claim victory by now.

Backed up against the wall, and forced to admit the most damaging quotes used against Limbaugh were forgeries, his accusers are left stammering that he’s simply too “divisive” to be involved with ownership of an NFL team. What a bleak example of the totalitarian mindset! If you disagree with the approved ideas distributed by the collective, you’re “divisive” and unfit for membership in polite society. I suppose Limbaugh is saturated with divisiveness particles, whose half-life will extend for decades, but the warning to others is clear: rid yourselves of those “divisive” ideas and get with the program.

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An Uncommon Union

You can read the Introduction to a new book, An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism, scheduled to be released next month, here.

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Rocking Harvard

Professors Who Rock Harvard here.

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Dug Down Deep

You can read Chapter 1 of Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris here.

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Wine Tasting

Posting will be light (or non-existent) for the rest of the day as I’m just heading out the door for a little wine tasting in Livermore. Projected stops; Retzlaff, Concannon (new tasting room), Rodrigue Molyneaux, and Cuda Ridge.

For French wine lovers, check out this upcoming auction.

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A Taliban Threat

More from the religion of peace.

Fighters linked to the militant Taliban group have threatened to kill Christians and burn their homes in Pakistan’s Punjab province if they don’t meet their demands.

In a letter sent to the Christian community in the northeastern city of Sargodha, Taliban militants said Christians should convert to Islam, pay an Islamic tax imposed on religious minorities, known as ‘Jizya tax’, or leave the country.

If Christians refuse to accept these choices, Christians “will be killed, their property and homes will be burnt to ashes and their women treated as sex slaves,” said the letter, which was distributed to BosNewsLife and other media by rights group International Christian Concern (ICC). The Christians “themselves would be responsible for this,” the letter added.

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Breitbart

The WSJ profiles Andrew Breitbart.

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Riot

David Van Edema on the The Burlington Coat Factory Riot here.