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  • Reflections on Voting Decision Making

    I woke up this morning to a political thread on our church’s private FB group.

    **Danger, Will Robinson!**

    Thankfully our folks kept it fairly civil. Crisis averted.

    The thread reminded me of the need to help people think through the process of voting decision making. It isn’t my job as a pastor to tell you who to vote for but it is my job to aid the process with good lenses and questions to think through. I have the specific audience in mind of the local church with a particular desire to help our local navigate the murky waters of this presidential election cycle. The purpose of this post is to assist the voting decision making process by bringing up a few principles and asking a few questions.

    A Few Circumstantial Considerations

    Before we dive into some helpful principles and questions let us first examine some circumstantial considerations.

    I haven’t had many interactions where people are very excited about the Republican or Democratic nominee. I think this is a somewhat objective statement and I would back it up with what I call the ” yard sign test.” During the 2012 election cycle roughly 30-35% of the homes in my neighborhood had a presidential sign in their yard. During this cycle it is precisely 0.5%. That tells you something, people aren’t terribly excited about self-identifying with a particular candidate and putting up personal capital to say, “YES, this person very well represents me and my vision of our republic.”

    I haven’t seen the level of disgust with either main candidate in my lifetime. This should give us some measure of pause for feeling very strongly for this presidential election cycle in general. This should give us a measure of humility and empathetic listening as to why there are so many varying opinions even among people who often think quite similarly.

    While I am concerned with who you vote for, I am more concerned with the process of decision making than the decision itself.

     

    Caveats: I am trying to be patient, empathetic, humble, and understanding in how I think about these things but I am not perfect and have had to repent myself during this election cycle at several points. I am biased. I have my personal convictions and opinions and if you know me at all those aren’t difficult to discern. That said, I am more than happy to sit down and break bread together and listen to your perspective.

     

    A Few Questions

    What is my intended candidates vision for what is true, good, and beautiful?

    This question should be asked both in terms of political policy but also the sum of their life’s ambitions and experiences.

     

    How does Scripture inform my decision?

    To what extent is my hope for joy rooted in the New Heavens and the New Earth? How do the minor prophets and especially those exilic prophets inform how I think about the relationship of the church to the world? What does Peter have in mind when he calls us “sojourners” or “pilgrims” or “aliens?” How does the Sermon on the Mount inform how I think? How does Christ’s commandment to “love my neighbor” inform how I think?

     

    What is a vote?

    Is a vote merely a binary pragmatic choice between two flawed people OR is a vote something more than that? Some people vote with pure strategy in mind, others with pure conscience in mind, and others with some measure of nuance between strategy and conscience. In some elections there isn’t a pronounced dichotomy between strategy and conscience and others there are significant tensions. For conscience voters, a vote is a speech-act that is communicating that the candidate promotes a civic vision of the true, good, and beautiful. If you are a binary strategy voter, recognize that the conscience voter will not vote for a civic vision of the true, good, and beautiful unless they have peace with the totality of that vision.

     

    What are my heart motives for voting?

    Another way to ask the question is ‘what emotions are driving my vote?’ or ‘what do I want?’ What is the balance of positive emotions (care, concern, love) and negative emotions (fear, worry, anxiety, hysteria)? It isn’t that there should be all positive emotions and no negative ones but we should be concerned if our decision making is rooted in either complete captivation or utter fear and worry.

     

    Have I actively listened face-to-face with someone who disagrees with me?

    Am I letting anyone else influence, challenge, or shape how I am thinking about my vote? The inertia of life is to create echo chambers that reinforce our thoughts and actions. I choose what news I watch, what webpages I read, what RSS feeds I subscribe, what podcasts or radio programs I listen to… All that curation is not neutral and we should be self-aware and cognizant of that. Each of those mediums comes with attempts to influence, including this very sentence that you are reading. Be wary of the self-curated media echo chamber. If we are confident of the worldview that we hold then we should not be afraid of empathetic listening of those outside of our tribal affiliations and silos.

     

    Will I regret my decision later on?

    Close your eyes and picture the 2019 version of yourself, do you still feel good about your candidate choice? Imagine your granddaughter or daughter is 3 years older and asks who you voted for, do you have to wince or qualify your response? Do you feel comfortable having that same conversation with King Jesus some day?

     

    Do I need to have political power to feel safe or joyful?

     

    Is there anything my candidate could do that would give me pause to reconsider?

     

    What are your presuppositions with respect to two parties versus more than two parties?

    Are you open to the idea of a third party candidate in general? Are you open to a third party candidate if your main party candidate is polling poorly? Are you open to a third party candidate if that candidate more closely aligns with your civic vision for the true, good, and beautiful? Are you open to not placing blame on conscience-driven third party voters for your candidate’s inability garner the support they needed?

     

    What does my vote communicate to non-Christians about how I think about the America?

     

    What do I admire about my candidate?

     

    What policies am I aligned and misaligned?

     

    What is the fruit of the candidate’s life, character, and experiences?

     

    A Few Principles

    1. If you lean heavy on strategy or if you lean heavy on conscience be sensitive to the fact that others might not land as heavy on one or the other.
    2. Certain things in the Christian life are more certain than others. For example, I feel more certain affirming the Apostle’s Creed than I do about the certainty with parenting paradigms or alcohol consumption. Some election cycles might afford more clarity and/or uniformity than others but there should always be a spirit of deference in community in matters of non-essentials.
    3. America has had third-party Presidents before (ie. Abraham Lincoln won a 4 man race from the third party position). We have had all kinds of political parties in America’s short vapor-like existence: Federalists, Whigs, Democrats, Republicans, Democratic-Republican, National Union, and unaffiliated have all won the election in our short history.
    4. America has had the President determined before by the House of Representatives. In 1824, the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams because none of the 4 candidates received the requisite number of electoral college votes. Adams was second (84 votes) in the electoral college to Andrew Jackson (99 votes). It is not outside the realm of possibility that Evan McMullin (former CIA and former Chief Policy Director for the House Republican Conference) could win the state of Utah or Gary Johnson (former Governor of New Mexico and libertarian party nominee) could win the state of New Mexico. If either of them won a state and neither Trump or Hillary received the requisite 270 electoral college votes then the election is decided by the House of Representatives. The House is then free to chose from candidates who have received electoral college votes. These are not probable scenarios but they have historical precedent.
    5. Don’t forget about “down ballet” matters. The legislature and matters of your own state often have significant bearing on everyday life. Spend time and energy getting to know the candidates and issues on the rest of the ballot.
    6. Our voting should be Biblically informed, structurally informed (how does our government function per its Constitution and amendments), and relationally informed (thinking through voting in community).

     

    The sky is not falling. King Jesus is still on his throne and isn’t the least bit surprised. Let’s together ask the Lord for wisdom and understanding.

     

     

    October 11, 2016 • Culture, Culture Wars, orthopraxis, Politics, Worldview • Views: 1013

  • Mid-Term Results, the Culture War, and the Kingdom of God

    Obama

    While I am admittedly relieved to see the mid-term election results this morning, I am also reluctant to feel much more than mild relief. I think much of the mid-term results are a repudiation of the last six years of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi era. However, there are several reasons why we should not be spiking the football in the endzone.

    Politics and Culture

    Politics and Culture: which is the cart and which is the horse? I would submit to you that culture is far more the horse than the cart. Certainly there is an interplay between the two but I think in our republic the culture is probably 70% horse and 30% cart.

    Ideas or Energy

    Did people in America vote for Republican Governors, congressmen, and senators because their ideas changed or because their voting base was more energized than the last election cycle? I cannot answer this question with any real data but my highly subjective opinion would be that it had much more to deal with a more motivated and energized voting base. I don’t think that Americans have all of a sudden read the Constitution, changed their mind on abortion, embraced supply-side economics, or read John Locke or the Federalist Papers. Perhaps some of those things took place in disparate circles but I am doubtful to think anything like this took place on a grand scale. I would have more cause for hope if these election results were a result in a resurgence of a Judeo-Christian worldview that provides the ideological foundations for human dignity, justice, and order.

    The Culture War and the Christian Right

    One of the big mistakes of the Christian Right is the presupposition that if you have your party in office then most things in the world will be as they ought to be. Hence, we must put a lot of faith in top down political influence. The problem with this is twofold – 1. politics follows culture more than not  2. There is no cultural center of America that all Americans can look to and identify as our common bond (perhaps with the only exception being 9/11 [for those over age 20]). I don’t mean to say that politics is irrelevant, it is relevant, but it is one piece in an incredibly complex landscape that we call “culture.” I attempt to portray the complex forces that combine to form culture here. I think in many ways the Christian Right and the Culture War has back-fired and served to exacerbate trench warfare and discourage dialogue in the few public spaces we have left. As a result, people don’t want to talk about ideas any more because ideas divide and hence should be kept private.

    Modern Day Reformation

    I have no illusion that somehow a GOP legislative majority at the federal and state levels will somehow usher in a modern day Reformation in America. There may be some dismantling of unpopular liberal policies but there will be no ushering in of golden age of American spiritual life. I am not entirely against top-down/institutional strategies – I think things like educational institutions, denominations, service organizations, the marketplace, and even political parties can make significant contributions to cultural change. That said, in an increasingly cynical, skeptical, and snarky world, we must have equal efforts from a bottom up perspective.

    Faithful Presence

    Individual humans need other individual humans who will walk humbly, lovingly, and understandingly with them. We need to be in the lives of our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. We need to be asking good questions about what they want and listening actively to what they are saying. We need to be asking them about how are the things they want working for them. Are they deeply satisfying? Are they functional? Are they just? Are they promoting human flourishing?

    As we listen to the answers to these kinds of questions, facets of the Gospel will speak to the things that are broken and in need of healing and redemption.

    Do your civic duty and vote your conscience… but…

    The kingdom of God is not ushered in through an election. The kingdom of God is ushered in as Christ’s church does her job being faithfully on mission to the corners of the Earth.

  • Evangelicals: Now is Not the Time to Spike the Football

    David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO, David Green with Bible in warehouse, Culture Wars, Abortifacients, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act

    I was as happy as you were that the Supreme Court upheld the closely held corporation, Hobby Lobby’s, right to not provide coverage for the 4 abortifacients in the Affordable Care Act.  While in no way do I pretend to understand the field of law, the argumentation that closely held corporations appear, function, and act more like individuals than they do corporations made common sense to me – and hence, applying the Constitutional right to dissent to the mandatory coverage of the 4 abortifacients in Affordable Care Act seemed appropriate.

    All of that said, now is not the time to spike the football.  Evangelicals cannot rely on the Supreme Court, Congress, the Senate, nor the Executive branches to make America a “Christian nation” once again.  I am pretty confident that I love America as much as you do, but the reality is that we are a post-Christian nation that is growing increasingly undiscerning.  The people/culture(s) of America lack the worldview needed to understand the logical consequences of the breakdown of gender, marriage, and the family (the most fundamental unit of society).  The people/culture(s) of America have created a Swiss cheese patchwork quilt from a variety of different worldviews to piecemeal together sets of ideas that justify their behaviors, lifestyles, sin patterns, and addictions.

    In other words, we cannot rely on the federal government to be a positive agent of cultural change in America.  Cultural change happens at a wide variety of levels but politicians and bureaucrats are chameleons which change their skin color based on the popular opinion – this is why politics is more of a reflection of the culture(s) rather than the driver of the culture(s).   Evangelicals have a Herculean task ahead of them to engage the drifting, aimless, and anesthetized conglomeration of sub-cultures that comprise this thing we call the United States of America.

    Culture flows out of people’s wants and desires.  People’s wants and desires flow out of their hearts.  If you want cultural change then you have to see changed hearts.  If you want changed hearts then you must see the Holy Spirit remove the heart of stone and replace it with the heart of flesh.  If you want the Spirit to move then you must pray for Him to move and you must be faithful to share the Gospel winsomely, clearly, and boldly.  I am not saying don’t vote, or don’t engage politically; however, we cannot lobby or legislate people into the Kingdom of God.

     

  • An Attempt at How Cultural Orthodoxies (Dogmas) Form

    Cogs and Gears

    I’ve been pretty surprised at the rate at which new cultural orthodoxies have been formed over the course of my lifetime but particularly the last decade.  This post serves as an attempt at dissecting how cultural orthodoxies form and serves to appreciate the complexity of their genesis.  There is too much reductionistic thought out there about how cultural shifts occur and most of it centers on just one or two cultural factors and fails to take into account the massive web of multiple reciprocities that is this thing we call culture. Most of the current cultural commentary picks two or three sources as the root causes.  Typically the cited sources are institutional – the (liberal) media, corporations, the current political milieu, or highly organized elite power brokers.  I think these things have certainly played a role, even key roles, into the cultural shifts that we have seen.  That said, I think these views are pretty reductionistic and fail to understand the complexities the constitute culture.  As Justin Holcomb has said, “The most powerful aspect of culture is that which we do not think or reason about.” My main point in this piece is that the forces, elements, and ingredients that cause cultural change are very complicated and cannot be boiled down to just a few people, tribes, or institutions.

     First, we need to understand what elements of culture are at work, both conscious and unconscious:

     There is a constellation of at least 8 things that add to the formulation of cultural dogma – NOTE:  5 of these 8 are directly taken from a presentation delivered by Justin Holcomb and represent heavily thoughts from UVA’s department of Sociology (particularly that of James Davison Hunter) and also that of Christian Smith (Notre Dame)).

    1.  Artifacts:  iPhones, iPads, or other iDevices that unconsciously reorder how we interact with stimuli or information.  Artifacts can also be cultural icons such as the Cowboy, Bald Eagle, or Coca-Cola.  Artifacts unconsciously impact how we think and interact about our world.

    2.  Language:  Language is the carrier of culture… this is why terminology, accents, vocabularies, technical terms, pronunciations, and word meanings can very heavily geographically even within the same linguistic system.  The use of the various aspects of language heavily determines tribal identity.

    3.  Beliefs, Symbols, or Ideas:  these comprise some of the commonly held notions, brand identities, or thoughts of a people group or tribal faction.

    4.  Social Forces (aka Deep Structures) – Note the first 6 are from Justin Holcomb:

    • Individualism
    • The Therapeutic – the making of everything as not anyone’s own ultimate responsibility and the centrality of personal happiness of the goal of the individual
    • Consumerism – the commodification of things that should not be commodified
    • Pluralism – the acceptance of mutually exclusive systems of thought as being equally valued and/or true
    • Secularism – the intentional lessening of religious authority in a culture
    • Technology
    • Democritization of knowledge – consensus is king and if the consensus doesn’t agree with you, bludgeon them until they do
    • Post-Modern-Pragmatism – this is my own personal soap box on the mis-labeling of all things post-modern and what we really mean when we say the term “post-modernism”
    • Globalism/Mobility – this also relates closely to the rapid rise of urbanization, the velocity of ideas, the fluidity with which people change geographic location, and the role of the worldwide marketplace and supply chain

    5.  Institutions:  politics, education, economic, spiritual, media… etc.

    6.  Practices or Rituals:  these are the conscious (places of worship) or unconscious (shopping, sports, entertainment) liturgies of a culture – more on that here, and here.

    7.  Elites:  these can be media, political, athletic, celebrity, or other cultural curators and definers.  One could categorize these as being the heads of various institutions (#5 above), but elites are more individuals than groups and seem to transcend even the institutions that gave them their platforms.

    8.  The Marketplace:  dollars (or perceived dollars) can be the most significant voters of cultural change and this can happen on both the macro (Mozilla) and micro levels (Worldvision).

     Second, we need to understand what some of our cultural orthodoxies (dogmas) happen to be:

    (Note – I have in view here principally the West and specifically the American cultural context)

    -“The highest moral good lay[s] in personal self-fulfillment” – see George Marsden’s book, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment:  the 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal BeliefWSJ review here

    -Public conversation (or dialogue or discourse) is only to be about facts and not beliefs – in other words it is taboo to talk about God

    -Marriage is fundamentally about (romantic) love

    -Homosexual behavior is to be accepted at least as non-abnormal and in some instances as normative

    -What doesn’t hurt other people is morally permissible

    Authenticity to self and personal happiness are very important virtues and perhaps the highest of all the virtues

    -Personal happiness is ultimate

    -Sex is principally intended for pleasure

    -Be good (in your own eyes) in order to be self-actualized (happy)

    -The subjective individual self, in combination with the herd (read: democritization of knowledge), is the greatest interpreter, curator, and judge of what is true, good, and beautiful (over against history, data, or external authority)

    Third, we need to understand the interplay of the cultural elements with the culture, our tribal faction, and ourselves

    Velocity of ideas:  

    Before movable typeset, ideas and culture were principally only shared along trade routes.   Those trade routes which were often roads or nautical routes were the only means by which one culture (or tribe) might cross-polinate another group.  This made the velocity of ideas was much slower than in post-industrial and pre-internet age.  Another complexity to the transmission of ideas dealt with low levels of literacy and significant linguistic barriers that existed for millennia.  Oral traditions can travel remarkably quick yet must gain certain thresholds of cultural penetration in order to take route and multiple through generations.  The paradigm shifts in the transmission of ideas were principally the Gutenberg printing press, transportation advances (cars, planes… etc.), and communication revolutions (radio, television, satellite, internet, web 2.0).  These paradigm shifts in transmission of ideas has radically increased the velocity of ideas.  In the modern era, ideas can travel at nearly limitless speed, spread through thousands of seemingly disparate and unconnected networks or tribes, and reach saturation levels significant enough to change public opinion, shape political policy, or even to overthrow governments (ie. Twitter and the Arab Spring).

    Cultural Interaction is Determinative of Belief:

    Humans naturally gravitate toward like kind and like minded.  That said, there is significant interplay between what we believe and how you come up with what you believe.  Orthodoxy (right beliefs) affects orthopathos, (right emotions) affects orthopraxis (right practice), affect orthodoxy, affects orthopraxis, affects orthodoxy… ad infinitum.  So how we interact with culture – whether we engage it, critique it, or embrace it will impact consciously or unconsciously what we believe.  You can evidence this very clearly with radically undercontextualized and/or cultish groups like the FLDS or the Westboro Baptist folks.

    Unconscious Cultural Elements:

    The seven cultural elements listed above are constantly influencing our lives in good ways, bad ways, and every shade of grey in-between.  Most of this influence is unconscious, subconscious, selectively ignored, or down played as not playing a role in what we believe.  I have had several hundred conversations with people about what they believe.  In an overwhelming number of such instances, people believe the set of ideas that justify their wants, desires, and passions.  In these instances the horse was the wants, desires, and passions of the heart that drove the cart of the justifications, rationalizations, and knowledge of the head.  In other words, people seek evidence, truth, arguments, facts, and knowledge about their beliefs after those beliefs are formed by their belief system (secular, religious, philosophical, or other).  There are notable exceptions, but this seems to be more normative than not.  Most folks could not even name a single thinker, writer, philosopher, sacred text, or cultural element that was the genesis of their most central tenets, dogmas, orthodoxies, or beliefs.

    Conscious Elements:  

    That said, some of these cultural elements above are very conscious.  These elements are the ones that tend to get the most ink spilled about them.  It is usually institutions and elites that get the most attention and the usual scapegoats for when their is some rising cultural dogma that is contrary to our own tribal orthodoxy.  I do not wish to downplay the role of celebrity, elites, the marketplace, and institutions of all kinds in the formulation of new cultural dogmas.  The role of these conscious elements has been well noted in the sexual revolution, the rise of feminism, the rise of fundamentalism and evangelicalism, and have shaped the battle lines on other issues like abortion, gender, and sexuality.

    Concluding thoughts:  If you have bought into the idea that the contours of the cultural landscape are complex and inter-related, then I hope that you might be willing to think and interact on those contours with more deftness and in a manner than is more winsome.  I would hope that you would be able to identify more readily some of unconscious elements that comprise the invisible hand of culture.  Be patient with people who do not understand or do not care that they hold numerous mutually exclusive ideas in their worldview.  Have compassion on the culture for it is harassed and helpless:

    When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 9:36

     

    For further reading:

    Culture Wars, James Davison Hunter

    Intellectuals, Paul Johnson

    Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey

    Pensees, Blaise Pascal

    The Twilight of the American Enlightenment:  the 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief, George Marsden

    Social and Cultural Dynamics, Pitirim Sorokin

    To Change the World, James Davison Hunter

    Desiring the Kingdom, James K. A. Smith

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, John Frame

  • Best Links of the Week

    The End of Church Planting?  Interesting article that isn’t as provocative as the title.  Definitely worth a read and a place at the table for missiological theory of church planting, challenging the dominant paradigm of the entrepreneurial paid pastor/planter.

    How to use rewards/frequent-flyer credit cards to create a self-fulfilling profit loop (buy certain gold coins, get rewards/miles, deposit gold in bank, pay off credit card with gold deposited into bank).

    Third Millennium Ministries has its own iPhone and Android apps.  The content of ThirdMill is truly top shelf.  I am of the opinion that Third Mill is probably one of the most important ministries of our time and all on a shoestring budget.  If you care at all about the Gospel and the future of the church you ought to donate to them.  I am thankful that there are actually some forward thinking strategists that are creating excellent scalable content capable of penetrating that glaring lack of theological training of pastors worldwide.

    The Decline of the Nuclear Family.  Some pretty staggering statistics and commentary on the status of family in the U.S.

    Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Amy Farrah Fowler) of Big Bang Theory is actually a PhD and published in Neuroscience (HT: BL)

    Mortgage companies are still ‘robo-signing’

    Centrist Tom Coburn has an interesting debt proposal – I was definitely not expecting a proposal from one of the ‘Gang of Six’

    77 year old Congressman confronts gun wielding intruder

    An interesting piece giving some provocative thoughts regarding the Cosmological Argument

    There are several layers of awesome to this Pepsi ad (coming from a staunch Coca-Cola fan):

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8jmSdO20_s]

  • Best Links of the Week

    The Invisible Stock Bubble

    Russell Moore has an interesting piece on the parallels between what Romance Novels do for women and what Pornography does for men.

    Here is a nice rebuttal of Harold Camping and the whole world ending on 5/21/2011.  Also a man spent his life savings putting up those billboards everywhere.  This highlights the need for doing theology in community.   Doing theology on islands doesn’t turn out well.  Also, the ministry has an estimated worth of $72 million, although this may be a bit misleading as the lionshare of this is in FCC licenses.

    Reportedly on 60 Minutes this evening, George Hincapie weighs in on Lance Armstrong and the use of PEDs.  This is interesting because unlike Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, Hincapie actually has credibility and is probably the cyclist closest to Armstrong.  Would be pretty sad if true.

    Ray Lewis says one unintended consequence of the NFL Lockout will be a rise in crime.   I think I am actually inclined to agree with Lewis and am wondering if he read Freakonomics recently.

    Some pretty bold words from a former economic adviser to Barack Obama on fiscal and monetary policy as it relates to the dollar

    N.T. Wright weighs in on Stephen Hawking’s comments about heaven

    War Dog

    Where the 12 Apostles Died

    Tim Challies annual, “Where & Why We Buy Books

    Medvedev warns of new Cold War over missile defense shield

    Egyptian Saif al-Adel now acting leader of al Qaeda

    Iran reportedly building rocket bases in Venezuala

    Dark Tower trilogy of movies and two tv series may be nixed.  For those who don’t know this is some of Stephen King’s best work and was a very seminal body of work for the television show LOST.

    San Francisco man reportedly “cured” of AIDS

    Several Hedge Fund managers buying up massive amounts of farmland

    Some Wikileaks documents of Gitmo files shed light on enhanced interrogation techniques and unintentionally bolster their effectiveness

    Shallow Small Groups:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMyTMTmJU6E&feature=player_embedded]

    Really well produced and themed time lapse:

    [vimeo http://vimeo.com/23237102]

  • Best Links of the Week

    Ireland is raiding private pension funds to help get out of their debt mess… scary stuff and should serve as a caution to those in the U.S.  And in somewhat related news…

    PIMCO ups their ante against government debt

    Fannie Mae asks for 8.5 billion from taxpayers

    The AP makes an interesting case for releasing the Bin Laden photo(s)

    Cell phones are potentially at the center of the mysterious decline in U.S. bee population

    Fortified modern house

    28% of U.S. homes are underwater

    WSJ Article, “The Coming Postal Bailout

    Treasury auctions will break U.S. debt ceiling

    Prison rape in Iran

    NASA Gravity probe confirms Einstein’s theories

    Al Jazeera article on Pakistan PM’s addressing of the Bin Laden mess

    40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes (HT:  Lisi):

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6wRkzCW5qI&feature=youtu.be]

    Pretty incredible frisbee trick shots:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLbz0X_7waU&feature=player_embedded]

  • Best Links of the Week

    Daily Stormtroopers 365

    Religion May Become Extinct in Nine Countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland)

    In March, U.S. Government spent 8x more than it had coming in

    Some interesting rhetoric between Dmitry Medvedez and Vladimir Putin.

    Two sets of excellent photographs from the Japanese devastation:  BBC and Boston Globe

    Libyans using Western journalists as human shields

    Cash for Clunkers 2

    Paul Allen takes some shots at Bill Gates and gives some revisionist accounts of the history of Microsoft

    Massive publisher Conde Nast got scammed for $8 million by one email

    Interesting article in WSJ about feminism and provocative clothing among teenage girls (HT:  Lisi)

    The 10 Most Profitable Movies of All-Time

    Worthwhile video (HT: Jutty):

    [vimeo http://vimeo.com/20960385]

  • Best Links of the Week

    Kermit Gosnell

    Kermit Gosnell, the infanticide-abortion doctor, made over $1.8 million dollars a year, 17 properties, a boat, and a 41 year old mistress on payroll.  This story keeps getting worse and worse.

    Flu vaccine touts that it kills all strains of the flu virus.

    A few articles on multi-culturalism – “Ending the Multicultural Experiment” “Nickolas Sarkozy, “Multiculturalism Has Failed“”

    Some analysis of what the Egypt situation means for Christians in Egypt.

    Taxing Church Attendance?

    Saudi Arabia can’t refine enough oil to keep up with demand.

    Crazy good goal from Wayne Rooney:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gxwOoCDZlY]

  • Best Links of the Week

    George W. Bush has a few refreshingly rare words for a former president in a recent interview:

    I don’t want to go out and campaign for candidates. I don’t want to be viewed as a perpetual money-raiser. I don’t want to be on these talk shows giving my opinion, second-guessing the current president. I think it’s bad for the country, frankly, to have a former president criticize his successor. It’s tough enough to be president as it is without a former president undermining the current president. Plus, I don’t want to do that.

    Huge insult during Chinese delegation visit and huge blunder by Obama administration – “A State Insult with Chinese Charateristics.”  This further highlights

    Indian government has a $35 tablet computer.

    LinkedIn is going public.

    Why You Should Always Run Up the Score” – First Things

    GOP entertaining privatizing Medicare.

    The most sued companies in America.  Surprise, all the usual subprime suspects lead the list…

    China keeps ramping up the dollar rhetoric.

     

    FCIC Report – Financial Crisis was Avoidable – I am not sure whether this is the case or not.  It is a rather complex question of whether it was avoidable or not.   It leaves me with the question, does human irrationality not necessitate the existence of irrational bubbles?

    Over 99% vote for secession in Southern Sudan

    Drug smugglers attempt to catapult drugs over U.S./Mexico border.  Nothing like profit driving innovation… I wonder if they came up with their pot trebuchet idea while smoking pot.

    Tons of British Anglicans fleeing the Anglican church in favor of Roman Catholicism

    Baseball player walks away from $12 million salary because he says he ‘doesn’t deserve it.’

    Rafi Eitan recounts the story of their capture of Nazi Holocaust chief architect Adolf Eichmann.

    Truly excellent interview with Francis Ford Coppola:

    There is something we know that’s connected with beauty and truth. There is something ancient. We know that art is about beauty, and therefore it has to be about truth.

    UN spends $288,700 per “green job”

    Consumer confidence crashing in the UK

    11% of all homes are vacant in U.S. – this amounts to 18 million homes

    Florida Judge rules that Obamacare is unconstitutional.  In the same vein, “Tawdry Details of Obamacare

    “Greatest Putt-Putt Shot Ever”

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=ess9bRJ0bPw]

    Smooth Criminal on Cello

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlVbEclPj4c&feature=player_embedded]