Monday, August 2, 2010

Some links

I've just returned from my denomination's annual conference and found I had accumulated quite a few posts to which I probably would have linked if I had been attending to the blog. Some of them:
Ayn Rand’s Superman: A Serial Killer and Rapist," by Joe Carter, who links to a review of Ayn Rand biographies:
Whenever I doubt my own powers of naivete and rationalization, I remind myself that I once considered Ayn Rand to be an admirable and important philosopher. Somehow I was able to justify her atheistic nihilism with my views of Christianity by telling myself that she really didn’t mean what she said.

For instance, since no moral person could truly be against altruism, her frequent rants against the behavior must be referring to something else, something much more nefarious than caring for the welfare of other people.

Similarly, when the hero of her novel The Fountainhead raped a woman I used Whoopi Goldberg’s moral reasoning: It can’t be “rape-rape”, can it, if the victim consents after the fact?

Eventually, I could not longer dismiss the evidence that Rand was an apologist for wickedness. .... [more]
Instapundit explains how politically correct environmentalist banning of DDT is not only annoying Manhattanites but killing Africans:
Growing infestations of the ravenous bloodsuckers have New Yorkers annoyed, angry about officialdom’s inadequate responses — and “itching” for answers. . . . Frustration over absurd bedbug programs? Imagine the reaction Africans must have to “malaria no more” campaigns that claim they’ll (eventually) eradicate the disease solely with insecticide-treated bed nets, drugs, “capacity building,” education and (maybe someday) mosquitoes genetically engineered not to carry malaria parasites. As for insecticide spraying, especially DDT, forget it.

DDT is the most powerful, effective, long-lasting mosquito repellant ever invented. Spraying the eaves and inside walls of mud huts and cinderblock homes every six months keeps 80 percent of the flying killers from entering. It irritates most that do enter, so they leave without biting, and kills any that land.

Yet many aid agencies refuse to encourage, endorse or fund spraying. Many don’t even want to monitor mosquito and malaria outbreaks or determine success in reducing disease and death rates. That’s more difficult and costly than counting the number of bed nets distributed and underscores the embarrassing reality that their “comprehensive” (and politically correct) programs achieve only 20 to 40 percent reductions in morbidity and mortality. By contrast, as South Africa and other countries have shown, adding insecticides and DDT can bring 95 percent success. [more]
Russell Moore considers a question from someone who wonders whether he should keep a picture of Robert E. Lee on his wall:
.... When it comes to Robert E. Lee, I can’t agree with those who would equate this picture with one of Adolf Hitler. Virtually every biography, by his contemporaries and future historians, would commend the General for his personal character and his sacrificial leadership. As biographer Roy Blount Jr. demonstrates Lee’s views on race were, in some ways, much more progressive than those of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and other Northerners. ....

The idea of a human being attempting to “own” another human being is abhorrent in a Christian view of humanity. That hardly needs to be said these days, thankfully, but we ought to remember just what was at stake. In the Scriptures, humanity is given dominion over created things but he is not given dominion over his fellow image-bearing humans (Gen. 1:27-30). The southern system of chattel slavery was built off of things the Scripture condemns as wicked: “man-stealing” (1 Tim. 1:10), the theft of another’s labor, the destroying of family ties, and on and on and on.

In order to prop up this system, a system that benefited the Mammonism mostly of wealthy planters, Southern religion had to carefully weave a counter-biblical theology that could justify it (the spurious “curse of Ham” concept, for instance). The abolitionists were right. ...

...[I]f you keep it up on the wall, let it be, like every historical portrait, a warning.

I’d like to think that if I’d been born in 1841 Mississippi instead of 1971 Mississippi that I’d have been leading slave escapes. I’d like to think that if I’d been born in 1941 Mississippi that I’d have been singing “We Shall Overcome” at the 1963 March on Washington. And maybe I would have.

But a gentleman as devoted to character as Robert E. Lee, who had thought long and hard about the evils of slavery, was so conditioned by his time that he couldn’t see past his blind spot. So what makes me think that I could have escaped a similar blind spot? And what is so common in our culture right now that we can’t even see it, as we think we’re serving the Lord?

Jesus addresses something of this when he says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrite! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets’” (Matt. 23:29). Those are chilling words for one whose bloodline has come down from the slave-holding South through the Jim Crow oppression to the present day. .... [more]
Phil at Brandywine Books on "You Can't Clean Yourself Up Before You Go to God"
I heard something of a radio show tonight.... The show was discussing a Christian response to homosexuality, and I believe both guests had struggled with same-sex attraction over the years. A woman called in to ask if they believed people could be born gay and told her painful story of being rejected by churches repeatedly. She was 66 years old now, did not want to have homosexual feelings, but was beginning to believe God made her this way.

What burned me up was when she said churches had alienated her when they learned she struggled with homosexuality. Some churches wanted her to embrace the perversion; others wanted her to clean herself up before she could come to God with them. Naturally, I believe the first group is not practicing biblical morality, but the second group? Who do they think they are?! Are they in church to do God a favor? Does the Almighty need them to do his work? Did they clean up themselves before God redeemed them? .... [more]
Ross Douthat explains why so many on the Right have been skeptical about global warming and why the decline of the cause isn't such a bad thing:
.... The Seventies were a great decade for apocalyptic enthusiasms, and none was more potent than the fear that human population growth had outstripped the earth’s carrying capacity. According to a chorus of credentialed alarmists, the world was entering an age of sweeping famines, crippling energy shortages, and looming civilizational collapse.

It was not lost on conservatives that this analysis led inexorably to left-wing policy prescriptions — a government-run energy sector at home, and population control for the teeming masses overseas.

Social conservatives and libertarians, the two wings of the American right, found common ground resisting these prescriptions. And time was unkind to the alarmists. The catastrophes never materialized, and global living standards soared. By the turn of the millennium, the developed world was worrying about a birth dearth.

This is the lens through which most conservatives view the global warming debate. Again, a doomsday scenario has generated a crisis atmosphere, which is being invoked to justify taxes and regulations that many left-wingers would support anyway. (Some of the players have even been recycled. John Holdren, Barack Obama’s science adviser, was a friend and ally of Paul Ehrlich, whose tract “The Population Bomb” helped kick off the overpopulation panic.)

History, however, rarely repeats itself exactly — and conservatives who treat global warming as just another scare story are almost certainly mistaken.

Rising temperatures won’t “destroy” the planet, as fearmongers and celebrities like to say. But the evidence that carbon emissions are altering the planet’s ecology is too convincing to ignore. Conservatives who dismiss climate change as a hoax are making a spectacle of their ignorance.

But this doesn’t mean that we should mourn the death of cap-and-trade. It’s possible that the best thing to do about a warming earth — for now, at least — is relatively little. This is the view advanced by famous global-warming heretics like Bjorn Lomborg and Freeman Dyson; in recent online debates, it has been championed by Jim Manzi, the American right’s most persuasive critic of climate-change legislation.

Their perspective is grounded, in part, on the assumption that a warmer world will also be a richer world — and that economic development is likely to do more for the wretched of the earth than a growth-slowing regulatory regime. .... [more]
Ayn Rand’s Superman: A Serial Killer and Rapist » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog, Instapundit » Blog Archive » RATS ON THE WEST SIDE, BEDBUGS UPTOWN: Growing infestations of the ravenous bloodsuckers have New…, Moore to the Point by Russell D. Moore, Brandywine Books: You Can't Clean Yourself Up Before You Go to God , Op-Ed Columnist - The Right and the Climate - NYTimes.com