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.