Philip Jenkins, a scholar of history and religion at Pennsylvania State University, believes that on the important religious issues the day the American public can't see the forest for the trees. In his article in the October Atlantic, "The Next Christianity," (and in his recent book, The Next Christendom), Jenkins argues that Americans are all but unaware of what is one of the most important shifts of the twentieth century—the explosive growth of Christianity in the Southern Hemisphere. Here is an Interview with him.


Christopher Hitches of the Boston Globe provides a "View from the Patriotic Left" in FrontPage magazine. He makes a statement: "Within its own borders, the United States is already a potential microcosm of a secular, multinational democracy. We are the ones who have to decide whether such a system can long endure, at home or abroad. Rather than become nerve endings for nameless fear, we can each resolve to become more internationalist and to take a more forward role as citizens." That seems to me a healthy, constructive way forward.


Martin Walker, UPI Chief International Correspondent, offers his view on the US relationship with Europe as regards events in the middle east: US Nice Guy says 'enough'. His is the first defense I've read of the current administration's approach that casts US motives in any kind of understandable light. I still don't understand the motive for going after Iraq (Walker treats it as a "handy litmus test" -- ugh), but Walker's view towards the regimes in power in Egypt and Saudi Arabia seems spot on. I just don't get how achieving "regime change" militarily in Iraq is going to "inspire" oppressed peoples in these other countries to make changes for the better.
Noam Chomsky, professor of Linguistics at MIT, writes in the Guardian about the need to address the root causes of terrorism from the mid-east: Drain the swamp and there will be no more mosquitoes. He derides the administrations explanation that the radicalization taking place in the middle east is because these people "hate our freedoms". It's a pretty lame explanation and it's the first article I've read that cogently explains what is more likely and why taking action against Iraq will likely lead to more of the same. The Guardian is a left-ist, anti-monarchy newspaper and Chomsky is known to be left-leaning, but his arguments are worth a read even though some of the facts he presents -- for example: over a hundred thousand people have died in Iraq over the past decade due to sanctions the west have imposed -- are debatable.


Thomas Friedman in the Editorial section of the New York Times (free registration required) offers a 9/11 Lesson Plan for teachers having trouble deciding what to tell students on the anniversary. Friedman touches on the conflict between Islamic culture and modernity (which I view as ironic given our increasingly rapid shift towards post-modernity) and that "evil people hate us for who we are, many good people dislike us for what we do. And if we want to win their respect we need to be the best, most consistent and most principled global citizens we can be."

I have a bit of trouble with his point that "we didn't start this". We are engaged in the world and for every action we take in our perceived national interest, there are going to be ramifications and reactions. Some of those are going to come back and haunt us, indirect as they may be. We have to understand that as the 800 # gorilla in the world, we're going to piss off certain people and as a bull in a china shop, some dishes are going to get broken.
Jeffrey Zeldman, of "A List Apart" fame, describes why he thinks99.9% of Websites Are Obsolete, an excerpt from a book he wrote that's due to come out shortly. His argument has to do with slavish devotion to backward compatibility with browsers that makes no technical or business sense.


Bill Barnes writes in Slate as to why we all should hold off for a bit in buying new gadgets. Unlike David Weinberger (of the Journal of Hyperlinked Organization fame who pretty much slams Bluetooth in favor of Wi-Fi, Bill opines that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are complementary and that all the new gadgets that are coming out this next year (what I used to quaintly call: "peripherals") are going to be Bluetooth enabled and therefore wireless and therefore much nicer to use.

For my part, I'm holding out for a Mac desktop running OS-X with an iPod and the related (rumors say) iPhone which is an integrated Palm-like thing with a Cell phone and a SLR megapixel camera that can also serve as a webcam. Cool!
Robert Shapiro (former undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration and a fellow of the Brookings Institution) writes about how Japan has fallen behind IT-wise over the last 10 years in an article in Slate entitled: "The IT Split - Why Japan's tech industry bombed while America's boomed.". More analysis about Japan's culturally informed structural rigidity.
Whither Japan? Do you remember the books & articles of the 80's which expressed anxiety about the "emergent" Japan who was going to succeed by economic means what they failed to do by military means in WWII? And then, more recently, we see the inwardly focused, downward spiraling Japan, paralyzed by internal rigid structures and culture from meaningful reform? John Wilson provides his (contrarian) perspective in Christianity Today's Books & Culture Corner.


The media (Christian and Secular) haven't seemed to take Contemporary Christian Music very seriously. Mark Allan Powell, a lutheran theologian has recently produced Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, a 1067 page collection of reviews, discographies, and critical summaries of artists—from household names to the obscure. Christianity Today interviews Mr. Powell here about his book, why he wrote it and what the reaction of his professional theologian friends is.


If you look back at my 30-April entry, you'll see that I note an article by Richard Florida on "The Rise of the Creative Class" . Since then, he's written a book. I've bought it (used from Amazon ... gotta love that marketplace feature) and will write more about it after I read it.
Ok, I'm not part of the blogo-scenti but this article in Newsweek by Steven Levy points out why that's not necessarily so important.
Tina Rosenberg discusses what's wrong with Free-Trade Globalism and, even more constructively, offers a nine-point plan to fix it. Registration required.


One of the articles cited in "A Primer on Postmodernism" by Stanley Grenz is available in the online version of the Atlantic magazine: Jihad vs. McWorld - 92.03
I'm currently reading Stanley Grenz' A Primer on Postmodernism. Grenz is a professor of theology and ethics at Regent College, Vancouver, BC and so speaks from an evangelical christian perspective. The book is true to its purpose (it's a Primer) and so is not big (200 pages including citations and notes). I find his comprehensive treatment of the elements of postmodernism (literary, art, architectectural, social, cultural) accessible with a wealth of citations to pursue further.

Charles Mann writes in the Atlantic about Homeland Insecurity, the idea that the government is actually doing a lot of wrong things in its lame attempts to make the country more secure. He profiles Bruce Schneier, a public crypto pioneer and advocate who now advocates more ductile security measures that don't fail badly (like what happens if somebody slips by the security checkpoint at Hartsfield or SeaTac). A great article about the state of security in our country, what's happened with Crypto and what we REALLY should be doing (hint: rely on people, not technology).


David Weinberger, author of "ClueTrain Manifesto, posits an interesting thought provoker here. In 50 years, when our grandchildren look back on how we conducted our life and culture in the early 21st century, what will they be amused/horrified by?

My ideas:
American arrogance in global affairs (neo-imperialism)
Antagonism (civil/social/religious) towards non-hets
Failure to constructively engage the developing world
The inequities of capital punishment


An article in a Saudi Arabian english publication posits and supports the theory as to why Bin Laden no longer exists.


Dr. Dudley Woodberry, one of the west's foremost Islamic scholars, provides some
good background from an evangelical Christian perspective on the roots of the current situation in the middle east.


Desmond Tutu expresses his perspective that I find verbalizes some of the feelings that I have about the situation in Palestine/Israel. In a comment piece in the Guardian (a liberal, republican -- i.e., anti-monarchy -- newspaper in the UK), he writes about Apartheid in the Holy Land.
Richard Florida, a professor of regional economic development at Carnegie Mellon University and a columnist for Information Week, arrives at some surprising conclusions in his article: "The Rise of the Creative Class" . He started out researching why initiatives to improve the economic lot of Pittsburg had come to naught and discovered an interesting demographic trend and set of markers for determining the economic success of a city. He offers a "Creative Index" for cities. Tulsa, by the way, made the top 10 (barely) of medium sized metro areas (500K-1MM pop.) DesMoines (!?) is number 2 in small sized metro areas (250K-500K). Austin and SanDiego are numbers 2 and 3 in the large sized metro areas (1MM+). This is great food for thought.


Suzy Hansen interviews Todd Gitlin on his views of Americans, the Media and Culture. I found this article in Salon via Cursor.Org which provides (at least) an alternative to the prevalent view of America as the unfairly aggrieved nation and Israel as acting always in justified self-defense. I don't think the real picture is so simple.


Is Islam to Blame? "As president of the American Muslim Alliance, political scientist Agha Saeed has spent much of his time since September 11 trying to answer one pressing question: Why?" This is an excellent article in the East Bay Express discussing living as a Muslim in post 9/11 USA.


A UK government agency charged with conserving and promoting British rural life: The Countryside Agency - Home page. In addition, the Rambler's Association provides lots of information about how to get out and about in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).


Oh, what a hoot! I recall reading Irani authors complaining about how western culture and media were imported into Iran and, implicitly, played a part in the reaction that led to the revolution. Now, I read in the New York Times Magazine an article entitled: The Satellite Subversives about how expat Iranian's, based in the Great Satan, are using the media to speak truth into their culture. Where's the Voice-of-America funding when ya need it?


So sad. One of my favorite websites has gone under. I wonder where I'll find my commercial fixes now? Every once in awhile, I intone "... and the beaver is truly a noble animal..." which elicits some pretty strange reactions. I used to be able to direct folks to the Molson "I Am A Canadian" rant commercial which "explains it all". Drats, not anymore.


Intel is sponsoring something called "The Philanthropic Peer-to-Peer Program which is similar to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI@home) screen saver project.

The idea is that you download a screen saver which links your computer (just the spare processing power) into a network for the use of medical researchers working on today's thorniest problems like anthrax research, cancer research, alzheimer research and so on. So if you've got Internet access and DSL or Cable, you might want to check into it.

I draw your attention to an excellent article by Philip Yancy in CT, Strengthening Our Weakest Link, pointing out some of the foibles of the evangelical ghetto. Yancy quotes Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary and makes observations about the irony of some of folks that Wheaton College chooses to honor.