05 December 2009

December snippets

  • More than a quarter of a million people thus far have signed The Manhattan Declaration since it was first released late last month. Drafted by Dr. Robert George, Dr. Timothy George and Chuck Colson, it covers three topics: abortion, marriage and religious freedom. It claims the support of Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical Christians, mostly in the United States but elsewhere as well. Dr. Paul Brink of Gordon College, who is a Redeemer grad and one of my protégés, discusses the document here: The (Unfinished) Manhattan Declaration. Brink's conclusion:
    Particularly in its concluding statements on religious liberty, the careful tone of the earlier discussions is overtaken by a competing rights-based spirit of “Here, I’ll take my stand.” The result may impress politicians that these Christian voters are determined to protect their views, but it can’t really be described as calling the state to its biblical task. In terms of articulating that clear vision of state responsibility, considering, for example, why certain Christian truths should be entrenched into law and not others, the Declaration is at best incomplete.

  • The historian in me is definitely intrigued: A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity. Long before the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, beginning seven millennia ago, a sophisticated civilization developed along the lower Danube River. This was an urban culture that had mastered copper smelting and produced stunning works of art. Yet, because it was a preliterate culture, we know little about these people, including what they called themselves. To learn more visit this exhibition at New York University: The Lost World of Old Europe: the Danube Valley, 5000-3500 B.C. Is it a travelling exhibition? I'd love to see it come to the Royal Ontario Museum.

  • Over the decades I have found it difficult to summon up much sympathy for libertarians, whether they be the lifestyle libertarians of the "left" or the economic libertarians of the "right." Both believe that the unfettered individual will inevitably bring in the eschaton, or something close to it. Here is a good example of the utopian thinking of the latter: Rockwell's Thirty-Day Plan. Government is the problem. The less there is, the better off we will all become. Ah, if only it were that easy. Those in the grip of an ideology are most likely to embrace the promise of quick solutions to complex problems.

  • So is the earth warming or not? I am one of those agnostics who find arguments on both sides persuasive, depending on whom I am reading at the moment. That said, what is now being called Climategate will not make life any easier for those who believe the evidence is strong for anthropogenic global warming. Then again, reading this gives me pause: I wish that the climate change deniers were right.

  • Readers would do well to look at this article by our own Rob Joustra, researcher for Cardus and a part-time Redeemer colleague: Fair Trade and Dead Aid: "My Voice Can't Compete with an Electric Guitar." The Acton Institute's Jordan Ballor likes what Joustra has to say: Critiquing Fair Trade and Dead Aid, yet he questions what he might mean by an architectonic critique of global capitalism. Joustra responds here: Fair Trade and Dead Aid, Responses. Whatever one think of the notion of fair trade, I make no apologies for having recently purchased at 10,000 Villages a bottle of extra virgin olive oil from Palestine, which I hope to taste soon.

    Later: I have now imbibed some of the Palestinian olive oil on bread. It has a fruity flavour very much reminiscent of the Italian variety. I still prefer the Greek.
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