The Incandescent Light Bulb and the Tea Party

My son, Ben, is doing his research in lighting so we are always keeping our eyes open to controversies over the which kind of lighting is best for what kind of money.

Here’s an interesting article on the Tea Party and the ban against the incandescent light bulb.

I love Dennis Miller’s line:   “I don’t care what my electric bill is. I haven’t worked my entire life so that my living room can look like a Soviet Bloc stairwell during a James Bond fight scene.”

If this book doesn’t have a Philly Cheese Steak in it, I’m not buying

Here is the marketing angle. “A visually delicious and curiosity-delighting book, stuffed with history, recipes, growing advice, celebration services, children’s activities, a quiz, lists of Bible gardens, gardening resources on the Web, and color photographs. A rich and varied resource for its modest price. Highly recommended,”—Library Journal

After 2000 years and we finally get corner delis!! Can’t see myself eating a 30 AD diet.

Books You Won’t Be Assigned in College

This is a list of books meant to serve as a starting place for students and educators who are seeking a list of available books and authors that dissent from current academic orthodoxy. Recommended by David Horowitz.

African-American Studies:

John McWhorter, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America

Mary Lefkowitz, Not Out of Africa

Shelby Steele, The Content of Our Character

Ward Connerly, Creating Equal

Hugh Pearson, Shadow of the Panther

Mary Lefkowitz and Guy Maclean Rogers, Black Athena Revisited

American Studies:

Peter Collier & David Horowitz, Destructive Generation:Second Thoughts About the 60s

Paul Hollander, Anti-Americanism

Peter Collier & David Horowitz: The Anti-Chomsky Reader

Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About America

Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin, Hating America: A History

Daniel J. Flynn, Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nations Greatness

Richard Brookhiser, What Would the Founders Do? Our Questions, Their Answers Continue reading

Do the Crusades justify continued Muslim jihad against the Christian West?

The received understanding of the Crusades is that the Church brutalized peaceful Muslims at the high point of Islamic culture and were motivated by sheer greed, barbarity and a religious triumphalism that sought conversion at the point of the sword. Osama bin Laden and many other jihadists regularly refer to the Crusades, and in innumerable discussions I have had about Christianity the Crusades have been offered as evidence of the true motivation and nature of religion and Christianity in particular.

It is such received “wisdom” that it has become the accepted explanation of the Crusades. Rodney Starks in his book, God’s Battalions: The Case for The Crusades, says, “Excuse me, but I think I have a different and better explanation.” Prof Starks is not a religious nut job writing curriculum for Christian homes schoolers. He is a respected academic.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he held appointments as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He left Berkeley to become Professor of Sociology and of Comparative Religion at the University of Washington. In 2004 he joined the faculty of Baylor University. He has published 30 books (see them here) and more than 140 scholarly articles

Hear Rodney Stark interviewed here.

Author Stark identifies four great lies that have become common wisdom in recent decades, all of which (he insists) are demonstrably false:

-That the Crusades were unprovoked assaults on a peaceful, enlightened, highly sophisticated Muslim civilization,

-That they were “the first round of European colonization.”

-That they were conducted for the purpose of conquest, riches, and the forced conversion of Muslims,

-That the Crusaders were brutal barbarians assaulting highly civilized Muslims who were culturally superior in every way.

In fact, with no unity of civil administration like that given by Rome before its fall in 410 AD, it was the church which stood in the gap as Islam waves of conquerors knocked at the door of Western Europe. Christian pacifists have a lot to be thankful for. The church understood the times and knew what was at stake in mobilizing Europeans to the power of arms.

There are justifiable accusations on the part of Arab peoples concerning actions of Western, Christian nations. The Crusades are not one of them. Stark has the evidence. It’s out there for all to read.

By the way, some have used such a movement of the Crusades as a call for Christendom and not just Christianity.  Christendom is the culture of Christianity mixed with the power of the state, more in the Western model than the Eastern model. In the West the Pope crowned the King but in the East the Emperor chose the Bishops. But in either case Christianity had become a cultural fact and upon it was built a political, military and economic kingdom. Today the church is largely dependent upon the good will of the state. Christendom is when the state is also dependent upon the good will of the church.


When pluralism becomes an “ism”

Note this report of friction in the schools in Europe as their population integrates significant surges of peoples of Islamic religion. The demands placed upon western cultures by pluralism will increase in complexity. In Europe the Catch 22 is that the same laws that have been used to protect pluralism are now used to resist Christian impulses even in their own schools.  Of course, the problem with the Catholic schools is their reception of state funding. The nose of the camel is in the tent, and you always pay a price to give government a place at the table. I am finding that many churches here in the US are running programs that depend on government funding in order to help pay for the upkeep on their buildings and pay the bills for aging congregations. It is a fool’s errand. The government might get their money for free but they don’t give it out for free.

At times I am surprised how clueless the emerging church is to such challenges. They are not interested in these discussions. They will be. But like so many in Europe, by the time they wake up, it will be too late. They will find the pluralism they so much desire has turned not into a true pluralism but an “ism” that must be fed. I visit a lot of blogs, many of them rather sophisticated and intellectually demanding. They are very busy about secondary issues, but the issues that call for courage and strength and the willingness to fight large intellectual battles are absent. The word “effete” comes to mind. On their blogs in the midst of their ruminations they recommend the best kinds of coffee and fountain pens and Moleskin notebooks, as if the intellectual challenges Christianity faces are a game that the truly snarky can win. It will not be so.

A 2008 New York Times article explains that France’s hijab ban in state-run classes has pushed Muslims to Catholic schools, which are not bound by this law and must accept students of all faiths to qualify for subsidies. Yet even the less critical Timespiece could not ignore the ensuing cultural friction. For example, it relates the story of one Catholic school’s headmaster who, after a series of accommodations, finally had to “put his foot down when students asked to remove the crucifix in a classroom they wanted for communal prayers during Ramadan.”

Christian schools elsewhere are caught in a similar cycle. NIS News reported in 2008 that “two Amsterdam secondary schools with a Christian basis are to close during [Eid al-Fitr] to accede to their Muslim pupils.” A year later, a Dutch Catholic elementary school with a handful of Muslims was planning to serve halal food at a Christmas meal, but officials reversed course following parental outrage. In the UK, bishops have recommended that Catholic schools include prayer rooms and washing facilities for Muslims. The Times of London has also noted that at least one Muslim-heavy Church of England school “no longer observes the requirement to have an act of daily collective worship that is ‘consistently and recognizably Christian.'”



Looking for a New Testament break in the Qur’an

Many Bible reading plans have the reader in both Old Testament and New Testament sections at the same time. The Old Testament needs the completion of the New Testament to be understood. By itself most will take the Old Testament purely as “eye for an eye.” (I think there is evidence of grace and mercy there, but to many it might not be obvious).

I could use the same kind of break in reading the Qur’an, like it should have something like a New Testament breather somewhere.  But there is no break. At least so far, I cannot detect a softening, a flowering of a higher spirituality, a break with the heavy condemnation of the Jews. No matter where the Qur’an might wander, the Jews aren’t very far away from another prosecution and anathema.

I have read portions of other “holy books” from different world religions, but this “cut off the hands” mindset of the Qur’an I can’t remember.

By the way, I am reading Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Significant insight into Islam and Arab culture. Of course, Lawrence was outraged that the Allies of WWI used the Arabs to attack the Turkish Ottoman Empire which had allied with Germany and then carved up Arab lands for the Allies rather than give to them self-determination. His travels among the Muslims before and during the war and before the treaties still demonstrates a culture that was not at peace with any people or religion outside of Islam. I think that to make the West the sole reason of why Muslims hate us does not seem to offer a historically verifiable answer. They were isolationists of an extreme kind before WWI. More to come as I read my way through.