Links for 02/02/15

by Michael Sean Winters

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This unmasterful essay by Austin Ruse at Crisis clings to all the agitprop of the Catholic right in a way that is almost a caricature. Can we all agree to retire the concept of "non-negotiable" items when discussing the political significance of our faith?

Kudos to Princeton Professor Robbie George for highlighting the cruelty of religious persecution in Saudi Arabia, and even offering to receive 100 lashes of the 1,000 lash sentence imparted to  a Saudi blogger. My differences with Professor George are many, but on this issue, we are in agreement. 

I neglected to link to this masterful essay at the NYTimes by Leon Wieseltier in which he defends humanism and liberalism from their critics with aplomb. Here is one of many money quotes:

Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience, even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life. All revolutions exaggerate, and the digital revolution is no different. We are still in the middle of the great transformation, but it is not too early to begin to expose the exaggerations, and to sort out the continuities from the discontinuities. The burden of proof falls on the revolutionaries, and their success in the marketplace is not sufficient proof. Presumptions of obsolescence, which are often nothing more than the marketing techniques of corporate behemoths, need to be scrupulously examined. By now we are familiar enough with the magnitude of the changes in all the spheres of our existence to move beyond the futuristic rhapsodies that characterize much of the literature on the subject. We can no longer roll over and celebrate and shop. Every phone in every pocket contains a “picture of ourselves,” and we must ascertain what that picture is and whether we should wish to resist it. Here is a humanist proposition for the age of Google: The processing of information is not the highest aim to which the human spirit can aspire, and neither is competitiveness in a global economy. The character of our society cannot be determined by engineers.

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