It starts with that kind of hand-holding (cattle prodding in some cases) and then one day you find a kid sitting on the floor reading a Latin/English dictionary because he “felt like it.” Next day, it’s a book on the history of baseball.
That’s it right there. Curiosity kindled, self-learning employed, parental reverie achieved. Sure, we use the internet too but, for my kids at least, a room full of books inspires more than a blinking search engine cursor.
So, yes, I have a big library with a bunch of books I haven’t even read yet. I’m not a poser; I’m prepared. Always ready to feed the flames of my children’s imagination with a well-placed book, even if it’s one I haven’t gotten around to reading yet myself.
But wait, some will object: You can’t reduce contemporary American liberalism to the illiberal outbursts of loudmouthed activists, intemperate journalists, foolish undergraduates, and reckless Ivy League professors!
To which the proper response is: True!
Still, I wonder: Where have been all the outraged liberals taking a stand against these and many other examples of dogmatism — and doing so in the name of liberalism? I’ve been doing that in my own writing. And I’ve appreciated the occasional expressions of modest support from a handful of liberal readers. But what about the rest of you?
— Damon Linker. I’ve been wondering the same thing. How many Americans are there who, while liberal themselves, don’t think it’s a good idea to try to drive religious believers altogether out of the public sphere? If a significant number of them remain, they are very, very quiet. (via ayjay)
A straw man can be a very convenient property, after all. I can see why a plenteously contented, drowsily complacent, temperamentally incurious atheist might find it comforting—even a little luxurious—to imagine that belief in God is no more than belief in some magical invisible friend who lives beyond the clouds, or in some ghostly cosmic mechanic invoked to explain gaps in current scientific knowledge. But I also like to think that the truly reflective atheist would prefer not to win all his or her rhetorical victories against childish caricatures. I suppose the success of the books of the ‘new atheists’—which are nothing but lurchingly spasmodic assaults on whole armies of straw men—might go some way toward proving the opposite. Certainly, none of them is an impressive or cogent treatise, and I doubt posterity will be particularly kind to any of them once the initial convulsions of celebrity have subsided. But they have definitely sold well. I doubt that one should make much of that, though. The new atheists’ texts are manifestoes, buoyantly coarse and intentionally simplistic, meant to fortify true unbelievers in their unbelief; their appeal is broad but certainly not deep; they are supposed to induce a mood, not encourage deep reflection; and at the end of the day they are probably only a passing fad in trade publishing, directed at a new niche market.
David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God. Reading Hart is such a … bracing thing. Sort of like knocking back a tumbler of white lightning. (via ayjay)
[U]ntil social scientists decide to do the difficult, expensive work of locating same-sex attracted parents (however defined) through random, population-based samplingstrategies—preferably ones that do not “give away” the primary research question(s) up front, as ACHESS did—we simply cannot know whether claims like “no differences” or “happier and healthier than” are true, valid, and on target. Why? Because this non-random sample reflects those who actively pursued participating in the study, personal and political motivations included. In such a charged environment, the public—including judges and media—would do well to demand better-quality research designs, not just results they approve of.
Another reason for healthy skepticism is that the ACHESS participants—parents reporting about their children’s lives—are all well aware of the political import of the study topic, and an unknown number of them certainly signed up for that very reason. As a result, it seems unwise to trust their self-reports, given the high risk of “social desirability bias,” or the tendency to portray oneself (or here, one’s children) as better than they actually are. Again, it is impossible to know exactly how much of a problem such bias presents in this situation. But I think the temptation to report positive assessments could be elevated in this self-selected sample and on this sensitive topic.
"Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged."
This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s read Alvin Plantinga or Francis Schaeffer, thinkers who made a big deal of presuppositional apologetics. We all worship something; it might not look like the standard caricatures and expressions of Religion, but it’s religion nonetheless.
Heh. I always enjoy reading about bewildered, navel-gazing scientists.
A celibate lifestyle falls pretty far outside the mainstream for most Americans, but there’s a lot in the Side B blogosphere that can stimulate fruitful reflection for those of us beyond its borders. They tackle issues like: How are people who remain unpartnered to fill their human need for intimacy and connection? How can we foster community and connection in a modern world that grows ever more alienating and complex? Why has friendship become so devalued—and whoever said that true intimacy could only be found in the context of a romantic relationship, anyway? If you’ve ever pondered these sorts of questions (and I certainly have), then there are worse places to go looking for thoughtful discussion of them than the blogs of celibate LGBTQ Christians.
The entire conflict between religious liberty and cultural liberalism has created an interesting situation in our politics: The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations — charities, hospitals, schools and mission-infused businesses — whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol.