The NYT reviews Robert Wright’s new book, The Evolution of God, here.
A look at [Thomas] Kinkade’s Cottage Fantasy.
Old Calvinists vs. new Calvinists here.
Christianity Today weighs in on “Evangelicals and the making of Jon & Kate Plus Eight.”
If you have recently stood in line at the grocery store and glanced at the tabloid covers, chances are you have seen the faces of reality TV stars Jon and Kate Gosselin. Jon and Kate are stars of the wildly popular TLC show Jon & Kate Plus Eight, which documents the life of this Pennsylvania couple as they raise their eight children, 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets. Until recently, Jon and Kate were celebrated as models of wholesome family values. Sure, they bickered a lot, but they were committed to staying together for the long haul. Indeed, last season featured them renewing their wedding vows on the beach in Hawaii. Such commitment endeared them to the watching public and made them TLC’s most profitable commodity.
Of all the viewers who followed the Gosselins, evangelicals were among the most faithful. Jon and Kate’s refusal to resort to “selective reduction” when they found themselves pregnant with sextuplets, their membership in an Assemblies of God church, and their Isaiah 40:31 T-shirts all helped to make them icons of evangelical piety. Churches from across the country clamored to be added to their speaking tours. In the last two years the vast majority of Jon and Kate’s presentations took place at Christian conferences or at evangelical churches, most often Baptist, nondenominational or charismatic.
And here’s a CT blog response (with comments) to their divorce announcement this past Monday.
More from the WSJ.
Plus, look who’s going to profit from the passage of the cap-and-trade energy bill.
Shop Class as Soulcraft, a recent book by Matthew B. Crawford, was first an essay that appeared in The New Atlantis in 2006. You can read the essay here.
A few days ago I said that California needed to cut the excessive car allowances that State Legislators get in order to begin balancing the State budget (see here). Of course, I know that this would largely be a symbolic gesture because the amount saved would not be nearly enough to balance the State budget.
However, what really needs to be addressed is what California pays in pension funds for retired State workers. Here’s the figures:
California faces unfunded public employee retirement benefits of somewhere between $300 billion and $1 trillion, a panel discussion at the Milken Institute’s State of the State Conference concluded in May.
Joel Kotkin, presidential fellow at Chapman University in Orange County, Calif., and a popular writer on public policy, agrees. “The item that is most killing the state budget is the huge pensions for public employees,” he said in a recent CNBC interview.
“We have to figure out what we’re spending, how we’re spending, and to begin to make the public employees live by something close to the rules that the rest of society does.”
Read the complete article here.
The St. Petersburg Times is doing a lengthy special report on the Church of Scientology. Part 1 and 2 are now online here. I’ll eventually post the whole series at TDC.
Few films experience as timely a debut as The Stoning of Soraya M. is set to make on June 26. While women in Iran are protesting the suspect election of a president whose policies have been particularly oppressive to them, the true story of a woman who was wrongly put to death by Islamic officials in the 1980s seems especially relevant.
Based on the best-selling book by the late French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam, the film recounts the murder of 35-year-old Soraya, a mother of four whose husband had fallen in love with a 14-year-old girl. Not wanting the expense of caring for two wives, he conspired with the local mullah to frame Soraya for adultery. She was found guilty by a corrupt village council that included her own brothers, and stoned by a mob that included her father. Had it not been for the outspokenness of her aunt, who risked her own life to relay the events to Sahebjam, the truth behind Soraya’s death may never have come out.
Is this The Golden Age of Conspiracy? Here’s some of the most common conspiracy theories:
* That Nato governments and their tame journalists invented the “atrocities” committed by Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia and her allies in order to justify a war to expand the empire of neo-liberalism into the southern Balkans;
* That Prince Philip, along with the British and French intelligence services, arranged the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, because she was about to marry a Muslim;
* That the 9/11 atrocities in New York and Washington were an “inside job” organised by a rogue faction within the US intelligence agencies or maybe the Bush administration itself to justify war in the Muslim world;
* That Israel warned Jews to stay away from the World Trade Centre on 9/11 but allowed the slaughter of gentiles to stoke up hatred of Muslims;
* That the Jews, once again, formed a “lobby” in the US that pushed America into a needless war against Saddam Hussein;
* And that the Bush and Blair administrations knew in advance that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction worthy of the name but lied and went to war under a false prospectus.
In the past 15 years, vast numbers of people have believed one or more of the above. For a decade after Diana’s death, polls reported that between one-fifth and one-third of the British public thought she had been murdered — even though to sustain that conviction they had to accept that the conspirators must have known in advance that she would decide not to stay in Mohamed Fayed’s Paris Ritz, what car she and Dodi Fayed would leave in once they had resolved to move on, who would be driving the car, where and by which route it would travel and — finally and bafflingly — that the poor woman would forget to put on her seatbelt.
A 2006 poll by the Pew Research Centre asked Muslims in Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and Pakistan whether Arab terrorists carried out the September 11 attacks. A majority in all countries — and a huge majority in Pakistan — replied that they did not. More than half of British Muslims (56 per cent) agreed that the hijackers were innocent stooges of a devilish plot, and one-quarter went on to say that “the British government was involved in some way” with the 7/7 atrocities on the London Transport system. More than 100 million people have watched Loose Change, a slick and mendacious documentary which opines that a missile, not an airliner, hit the Pentagon, and that a secret government agency faked the recordings of panicked calls from the doomed passengers.
Meanwhile, around the Middle East, and increasingly among western intellectuals, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that ascribe supernatural power to Jewish influence are so prevalent no one has found a way to measure them.
Read the complete article here.
Newsweek covers the “growing controversy over military chaplains using the armed forces to spread the Word.”
This is no suprise.
While the new federal report (prepared by 13 agencies and the White House) paints a dire picture of climate change’s impacts, Dr. Pielke says that the authors of this new report, like those of previous reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Stern Review, cherrypick weak evidence that fits their own policy preferences.
The new federal report on climate change gets a withering critique from Roger Pielke Jr., who says that it misrepresents his own research and that it wrongly concludes that climate change is already responsible for an increase in damages from natural disasters.
Actually, according to Pielke and the federal Climate Change Science Program findings of last year:
1. Over the long-term, U.S. hurricane landfalls have been declining.
2. Nationwide there have been no long-term increases in drought.
3. Despite increases in some measures of precipitation . . . there have not been corresponding increases in peak streamflows (high flows above 90th percentile).
4. There have been no observed changes in the occurrence of tornadoes or thunderstorms
5. There have been no long-term increases in strong East Coast winter storms (ECWS), called Nor’easters.
6. There are no long-term trends in either heat waves or cold spells, though there are trends within shorter time periods in the overall record.
You can visit Dr. Pielke’s blog here.
Pizza Hut is changing it’s name to The Hut. Please make note.
Here’s the first thing that needs to be cut to begin balancing the California State budget.
When not in a capital gripped by budget crises, state Sen. Ron Calderon can be found touring his San Gabriel Valley district in a Cadillac STS V8 Luxury Sports Sedan that the state bought for $54,830.
The Democrat from Montebello spent an average $83 per week on gasoline last year, charged to California taxpayers on a state-issued card.
When legislators’ cars need maintenance or are in accidents — even with spouses or offspring at the wheel — taxpayers also pay, state records show.
The cost of providing lawmakers with Cadillacs, Lincoln Town Cars, Priuses and Lexuses, keeping the vehicles full of gas and fixing them when they crash was $3.2 million during the last three years.
Read the rest here.
Christianity Today provides a list of Ten Theology Books for Your Beach Bag.
Also, they have an interesting article on The Changing Face of Apologetics.
Peta is upset with Obama over the fly swatting incident.
My friends and family know I have a love/hate thingy for dogs. Mostly, my love has to do with the dogs themselves, whereas my hate has more to do with dog owners. It irks me that so many dog owners apply “human” characteristics to their dogs, the most common one that dogs “love” people. No, dogs do not love, since love requires a choice, something dogs (which merely act on instinct) cannot do.
Anyway, here’s an article on whether or not dogs can talk.
As I note on the main page, TDC has been going through a growth spurt of late. Already, as of this date, page views are higher than all of last year. If things keep going this way, it won’t be long before I have to upgrade my web hosting plan.