Culture: May 2004 Archives

American Fetal Talk

| | Comments (3)

According to this study (thanks to McConchie for the link), Americans commonly talk to their fetal children, while people in other countries tend not to do so. This really surprises me, given that Americans also tend to put in the strongest showing for killing their fetal children for reasons of convenience. (That's even illegal in Norway, for instance. Relaxed attitudes toward the permissibility of abortion are common in Europe, but the number of abortions for incredibly selfish reasons is much, much lower.) The researcher quoted in the article even sees this as evidence that people "start to think of their unborn children as persons who are part of their family". Are these two Americas, along the political lines evidences in the political maps and book-buying maps that I've linked before but won't bother to try to find again? Or are these products of the same communities and values? I have a hard time believing it's the second option, but I can't think this sort of thing runs along political lines either, which makes me hesitatnt to accept the first. So I'm baffled. Are we just contradictory in this?

The End of PBS

| | Comments (3)

PBS has relatively little going for it these days, but the last major good it was doing had to do with educational programming. Sesame Street has slid a bit in terms of some features, though it's improved in others. Our kids love it, and they've made the features that were most successful over the years more prominent. I think Playhouse Disney tends to be a little better. The Wiggles is probably the best kids' show on TV (though it pales compared to Veggie Tales).

Well, PBS has gone and ruined whatever they had left. They've added voiceovers to all their educational programming, apparently for the sake of vision-impaired children. I have no problem with adding features that people can turn on if they like and if they have the proper equipment. This is what's done with closed-captioning for the hearing impaired. Most people don't want those subtitles appearing on the screen. It's just incredibly annoying and hides some of the artistry of what's being done visually on the screen. Well, the same should be true of voiceovers to describe auditorily what's going on visually. What PBS has been doing this past week detracts so much from the audio of the work that it completely ruins it.

Secret Agent Man

| | Comments (0)

Since I'm going to be working on the questions for the Blogdom of God interview soon, I decided to go read the two interviews that I hadn't read yet. One of them was of Secret Agent Man's Dossier. This hasn't been true of any of the other interviews I've read so far, but I found a number of items worth drawing attention to.

Back of the Envelope continues the discussion about evangelicalism and its boundaries, raising questions about whether evaneglicals must hold to inerrancy. He's now interacted a good deal with some of my comments, and it's turned more into a conversation. I wasn't exactly wanting to recommend this post when I first read it, as my lengthy comments will show, but what it's turned into now is definitely worth digesting.

It's becoming increasingly clear that there had been some sort of investigation already going on, and they just didn't want anything public until they'd completed that investigation. This is as things should be and were before the media circus days that have destroyed the process of justice in many ways. Someone inappropriately released the information about this while this investigation hadn't been completed. I'm much more sympathetic to people who want to do things in an orderly and reasonable process, getting things right before saying anything about it than I am to those who want to emphasize parts of a story that we know something about while not investigating the rest. You can call me secretive if you want (which I'm sure you'll do of the Bush Administration), but I'll just call you rash and foolish right back. There are plenty of questions to ask, and they're asking them in the right place now. I'm not willing to say anything about how anyone has handled this until that's all in. Everything I've heard is as consistent with exemplary behavior by both Bush and Rumsfeld as it is with what their detractors are saying.

I do want to say that one thing Rumsfeld said impressed me greatly. I didn't get his exact words, but when he apologized for the actions of the U.S. military under his command, he said "we", referring to the United States. He's got a deeper understanding of communal responsibility than most Americans do. We did this. He understands that. Many people think so individualistically that they resist any notion of one person deserving shame for the actions of others who belong to the same group they proudly belong to after events like 9-11 lead to surges of patriotism. If we band together as Americans then, we band together as Americans when Americans do egregious things. Moral solidarity is a two-way street. Those who see an us-and-them between themselves and the Bush Administration while criticizing Bush for what individuals he's not immediately morally responsible for have done want to have it both ways. They want individualism when they separate themselves from the atrocities, but they want communitarianism to blame others. I think something of each general attitude is correct, but we can't go inconsistently adopting one or the other based on which people we want to criticize and which people we want to distance ourselves from.

Update: Sam has more on the pictures.

Update 2: Swamphopper at The Rough Woodsman has a bitingly sarcastic reductio ad absurdum of the Rumseld Resign argument.


| | Comments (2)

Back of the Envelope has posted one of the best discussions of evangelicalism and fundamentalism I've ever read. It's good enough to get an InstaPundit link.
We've now seen the advent of this new term 'fundagelical'. Of course, I've never actually seen the term used, but I've seen it mentioned many times now. The rise of such a silly term makes this worth reading.

Update: Warren at View from the Pew comments: "I think Donald's definition of evangelical is probably a little bit wider than mine, and his definition of fundamentalist might be a little narrower, but he hits the nail firmly on the head. I guess it's the Southern Baptist thing -- we must think a little alike."

I've been wanting to host the Christian Carnival for about three months now, but I'd made a commitment not to do it during the semester while teaching an 8:30 am class, which gives no time for assembling the posts the night before due to prep work or the morning of due to teaching, so I've been putting if off. Well, the semester proper is over (though I've still got grading to do), and here we are.

Our party this week's Carnival has thirteen dwarves entries, including my own, and following the advice of Gandalf I've decided to pull rank as this week's heir to the title King Under the Mountain host. I've sought out a burglar Hobbit fourteenth entry to increase the size of our expedition the Carnival past such an unlucky unpopular number.

The Holy Observer

| | Comments (4)

A member of my congregation started something like a Christian version of The Onion called The Holy Observer. I just discovered it yesterday.

Here's a bit from the disclaimer:

If you are offended by any of the content on The Holy Observer, there is probably some good reason why you shouldn't be. If you can't figure out what the reason is, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're not smart enough to understand why you shouldn't be offended, but it probably does.

One older piece that I found enjoyable: Christian Capitalization! Those who wrote the Greek manuscripts without any capitalization are in big trouble, though I guess the ones who wrote the ones that capitalizaed every letter are in pretty good shape.

A Foreign Affair

| | Comments (0)

I received this from the mailing list of the Society of Christian Philosophers.

"A Foreign Affair", written by Calvin Philosophy Major, Geert Heetebrij, is opening this weekend in LA, NY (I think), Phoenix and Grand Rapids. A Foreign Affair is a well-written, well-acted, well-filmed, well-just about everything you'd want in a movie. This is the clever story of two bumpkins traveling to St. Petersburg on a "romance tour" to find a Slavic beauty to be their wife (i.e., cook and housekeeper). David Arquette wonderfully plays a selfish oaf whose quest for a wife degenerates into a quest for romance blurred with lust. Tim Blake Nelson is business-like and rational in his search--romance, love and lust are far from his mind. Emily Mortimer is radiant as a reporter disgusted by these so-called romance tours. The film is both story and character driven. Each of the main characters discovers his or her true self. Without revealing the surprising ending(s), the movie is a deep and profound allegory of love. Although not explicitly Christian, it embraces Christian values. Geert has mortgaged his future on this movie. Go and see the movie and take all of your friends. Intelligent Christian filmmaking could use the support.



Powered by Movable Type 5.04