Links roundup 8.11

I have not done much on the blog this summer, but think it was a relatively successful venture over the last year. I am not sure what counts for a successful blog. The USU philosophy blog gets 200 to 700 hits per day. My blog averaged 200 hits per week during the academic year (makes me wonder who those 200 people are!). However, I am switching to Canvas next year, so will no longer be steering my students to this website. That might drive down readership. Anyway, I think I will keep blogging. I hope to do more original pieces instead of relying so heavily on “links roundups”, though feedback I get is that students like getting pointed toward some interesting reading.

I am looking forward to the start of the fall term. I had a breakthrough last semester – a student tells me on his evaluation that he and his suite mates named their fish after me. Hardly a first born child, but it is a start.

To some links:

Front Porch Republic reflects on the obesity crisis in this piece entitled Fatness Shrugged.

Robert Royal on the dictatorship of relativism and its ugly children.

George Weigel on Evangelical Catholicism and the future of the West. And another Weigel piece on Pope Benedict’s six great propositions about religion and society.

Msgr Pope’s comments on a budget debate between a Catholic conservative (Paul Ryan) and Catholic liberal (Stephen Scheck).

Anthony Esolen argues, quite rightly I think, that the real test for arguing against the sexual revolution is the case of “nice fornicators.” On a related note, this piece discusses the need to make Catholic sex (nfp) sexy.

A gay Catholic talks about his life and faith. He reports that he is “gay, Catholic, and doing fine.”

Speaking of homosexuality, an online petition by some gay rights activists to encourage Sesame Street producers to marry Ernie and Bert has failed – Sesame Street announced that they are not sexualized and are just best friends. It is a reminder, though, that the gay marriage debate has never really been about “equal rights” (if that were the case, this issue would have been settled long ago). Rather it has been about using the State to mandate moral approval of actions that most Americans still find immoral. The online poll made an appeal to anti-bullying lessons, a good enough idea by itself but really just the most recent instrument for pushing this agenda of mandating social acceptance (see the ridiculous “anti-bullying” program in California schools regarding gender identity that is so far over the line to propaganda that I can’t believe it got approved). Using public dollars through the vehicle of PBS children’s shows does not look like “let people live their own lives” social libertarianism that I hear so much from progressives. It rather looks like State sponsored social engineering. See the Robert Royal piece linked above. Anyway, good for PBS for finally finding a progressive cause they could say not to.

A Fr. Barron fest of sorts here. Fr. Barron on morality, character and relationships, on Biblical family values, on marriage, Aristotle, and the transcendent third. Finally, a review of his video series on Catholicism, which is getting rave reviews everywhere.

I was reminded recently of the Nussbaum affair back in the early 1990s. Contemporary political ideology and culture wars meet ancient philosophy. If you are unfamiliar with the story, read about it here. To this day, I think Nussbaum handled herself very poorly. In my view, the job of a classicist is to objectively report what the ancient world was like so that contemporary students can engage it. Classicists should be like journalists in this sense. Nussbaum, it appears, let her own political views influence her too much in this case.

J.M. Anderson discusses the dangers of “outcome assessments” in teaching and the difficult of proving good teaching. In my view, good teaching is like pornography – difficult to specify in advance but you know it when you see it.

Sperber discusses the need to overhaul college writing.

Fr. Schall reflects on the demise of the Catholic university and the sad reality that today “we have universities that study everything but what we are and might be in reason and grace. We ‘research’ all that is but what is.”

Teaching kids latin is taking off around this country. There is hope for a renewal in liturgy when you look to the children.

A piece on why the story about Christ multiplying loaves that argues, rightly in my view, that if it is just a story about people being encouraged to share, then the story ceases to have any power as a Christian story.

A pretty nice video introduction to Catholicism here.

Randall Smith reflects on the growing popularity of cremation and what it means for our view of human nature.

I am enjoying a bit of scadenfreude with the recent stir about some supposedly intolerant or even sexist remarks from Dawkins. For once, I am with Dawkins on this one. His faux email may have been in bad taste, but the whole thing seems to be much ado about nothing. For those out of the loop, this article and this article give an overview of the drama.

About Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
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