Tag Archives: morality

“Machiavelli: Still Shocking after Five Centuries”

From The National Interest:

Of all the writers in the “realist” canon—from Thucydides and Hobbes to Morgenthau and Mearsheimer—it is Niccolo Machiavelli who retains the greatest capacity to shock. In 1513, banished from his beloved Florence, Machiavelli drafted his masterwork, The Prince. Five centuries later his primer on statecraft remains required if unsettling reading for practitioners and students of politics. Machiavelli’s originality—and the source of his enduring, if notorious, reputation—was his blatant rejection of traditional morality as a guide to political action, and his insistence that statecraft be based on a realistic view of corrupted human nature.

Scott Turow on Legal Novels

From The Browser—FiveBook Interviews:

The author tells us about his favourite novels with legal themes and the issues of justice, morality and human mess they bring to light.

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Drivers’ moral progress, and why they hate cyclists

Since I am an avid cyclist and an “anarchic individualist” when driving my car, I found the article from Andrew Brown at the Guardian rather interesting.

It seems drivers hate cyclists because they are cheaters—they get away with stuff that the drivers cannot. In other words, in trading freedom for comfort, drivers, even though they also cheat by speeding, rolling through stop signs, etc, resent the freedom that cyclists enjoy.

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The Taste for Being Moral

From The New York Review of Books, a thought provoking review of two books: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt, and Dignity: Its History and Meaning by Michael Rosen


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Kenan Malik on Morality Without God

From The Browser, FiveBook Interviews, some fascinating thoughts on belief and unbelief and five recommended books.


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John Wesley—Folk Theologian

Book review of Wesley for Armchair Theologians (2005), by William J. Abraham

The author, a distinguished Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins School of Theology (SMU) says in the preface, “Wesley clearly has a distinctive theology.” It is Abraham’s thesis that this theology is an “intellectual oasis lodged within the traditional faith of the church enshrined in the creeds.” I must admit that I was hooked right there because I enjoy rational inquiry into things not necessarily rational, remembering Wesley’s famous dictum, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity,” as guide.

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A plea for the virility of reason.

Found at Books, Inq. —The Epilogue is this excellent short article called, A year in Reading: Alexander Theroux. I particularly liked the pointed writing of these sentences:

“We live in a secular age, a period of dim understanding when it is a virtual blasphemy to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or put up a Nativity crèche. This is the kind of desperate self-consciousness and hideous circumspection that indicates how morally weak we are, farcically overconsidered, foppishly irrational. We live in a period when religion itself seems not even spiritual, when simonists on television are trying to make money selling God and halfwits are burning Korans and ordained priests are pedophiles.  We live in a time of supreme scruple. Pusillanimous. Tentative. Hesitant. Uncertain. Weak. Fearful. Cringing…

“St. Paul who unambiguously offers us life of Christ and salvation is not the fidgety neurotic button-twisting sort of herbert we now see everywhere, not only the toadying, listless, graft-ridden, indecisive nest-featherers and eunuchs that constitute most if not all U.S. Congress but even in our presidents…

“It is only when we get serious that we can grow. ‘When I was a child,’ St. Paul wrote, ‘I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.’ I offer this piece not as a means of conversion but as a plea for the virility of reason….”

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Author Amy Tan on Creativity

At TED is a video, 22:49 long, by novelist Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, and The Hundred Secret Senses. There is also an interactive transcript of the video. This is well worth listening to and reading.

She raises some big questions that clearly I raised in my (unpublished) novel. My questions: Why do things happen in life the way they do…in the order they happen? And how significantly do they influence your thinking and emotional well being from then on? And what if you had a large impact on other people, for reasons you are completely unaware, and what if you got it wrong?

She also speaks of quantum mechanics, moral ambiguity, intentions, randomness, accidents, mysterious forces and serendipity. She asks another big question: “And how do I create my own life?”

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A Short Story—The Shills

Authors warning: Although I post what I do with the hope that people read them, you may not want to read this story. If you’re not all interested in what goes on inside a modern progressive Protestant church, or you are simply tired of thinking about the health care debate, then I suggest you read a good book. Pick up an Elmore Leonard mystery, or if you want something heavier, try philosopher Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. Or better yet, buy a thriller, like The Target, from a new author, Bill Bowen, who blogs at Right in San Francisco…because my short story will not reward you with pleasant thoughts. It may even tick you off.

I wrote this in November 2009, angry and disappointed at my church. It’s marinated for a year, and while I’ve edited it, I did not soften it. The story is pure fiction, not because the event as described (with alterations and pseudonyms) never occurred—it did and I was there—but because Mrs. Agnes Tanner, the protagonist in the story, does not exist. Therefore, no such conversations took place. If she does exist, somewhere out there in the great progressive mainline Protestant churches of America, I have my doubts that she has a voice. More accurately, in my entire life, I have never heard her speak. But then neither have I.

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