What are you reading, watching, thinking about this week? As usual, here’s a few which have been on our mind. Let us know your thoughts on any/all of them. If you have items you’d like us to consider for the top five, add them in the comments or send them to Tom or Mike.
I spent a week in May with about fifteen other people, reading and discussing key sections of a four-volume tome with the forbidding title A New Critique of Theoretical Thought. Most of those present confessed that they had great difficulty understanding the assigned passages, yet everyone agreed at the end that the week was a great success, and perhaps worth doing again. … What kind of philosophy could attract the interest of such a varied collection of intellectuals [? The answer is that it was the philosophy of the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977), whose disciplinary specialty was actually not philosophy at all, but jurisprudence. He taught for many years at the Free University of Amsterdam, the Christian university founded by Abraham Kuyper, the leader of the great revival of culturally engaged Calvinism known as neocalvinism. … — Christian Philosophy, Anyone? (Al Wolters. Comment. 6/11/2010)
2. Free speech in a public, academic forum. What can we learn from the on-going discussion at UC-Irvine with regard to how voices are to be heard and how they are to interact? Any suggestions with regard to how such situations are to be addressed, in advance, during, afterward? Comment from Tom: The international world is on many U.S. campuses and most campuses lack the framework to engage in real, gritty cross-cultural conversation, let alone reshape perspective on the issues, the idealism is fading. Will shouting replace it on campus (including the administration/faculty) and the responses to incidents such as UC-Irvine?
The University of California at Irvine has suspended the campus’s Muslim Student Union for one year and placed the group on disciplinary probation after members of the group repeatedly interrupted a campus speech in February by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, according to a letter released on Monday.
The hecklers shouted down the ambassador, Michael Oren, at times calling him a “killer” and scuttling parts of the speech. Video of the event drew international attention and sparked a debate about the tactics of the protesters, who said they were angry about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. — UC-Irvine Suspends Muslim Student Group for Disrupting Speech (Josh Keller. Chronicle of Higher Education. 14/2010)
3. Clay Shirky is back with Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. In you’re not familiar with Shirky, he’s an “interdisciplinary” teacher at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, i.e., “professor without a discipline — not fully accepted in computer science, sociology, or art” (Jeffrey R. Young. The Souls of the Machine: Clay Shirky says the Internet revolution has only just begun. Chronicle of Higher Education. 6/13/2010). Note: Some may be interested that Tom worked through Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008) here and he’s interested in whether anyone would be up for discussing Cognitive Surplus. Below’s a quote from part of his journey into higher education.
“I discovered the Internet at the absolute personal and professional nadir of my life, and I glommed onto it like a drowning man to a life preserver,” he says. “And I thought, well I can either call myself an addict, and try and quit, or I could try and figure out whether there’s a way I can make a living off this thing.” — (Jeffrey R. Young. The Souls of the Machine: Clay Shirky says the Internet revolution has only just begun. Chronicle of Higher Education. 6/13/2010)
4. Scientists Get Religion (Inside Higher Ed, June 17): The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced Jennifer Wiseman, an astrophysicist and Christian, as the new director of AAAS’ Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion. In her opening remarks, she emphasized the need for conversation between scientists and religious leaders:
Wiseman said it is incumbent on members of the scientific community to reach out to “the people who reach people,” or religious leaders. In this way, she said, scientists can help religious communities become more comfortable with science, and get scientists more comfortable with talking to religious communities about their work. For example, she noted that DoSER might work with religious leaders to bring more science into seminary education.
I bet many ESN members would agree with this idea – which is not surprising, considering that Wiseman chaired the Natural Sciences and Mathematics track at Following Christ 2008. You can download to her track comments – and many others’ as well – from the FC08 audio page.
5. Campuses and Interfaith Cooperation (Eboo Patel, editorial in Inside Higher Ed, June 17): Patel, executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, shares some observations and comments about an event he helped plan on “advancing interfaith and community service on college and university campuses.” It’s good to see the White House taking an interest in religious life on campus, but one wonders about this recommendation in Patel’s editorial:
College campuses could have an interfaith council that works on common projects.
In Cairo, the president advanced a new “knowledge paradigm” with respect to religious diversity. Eschewing the tired clash of civilizations theory, which falsely claims that religions have opposing values that put them in conflict, Obama highlighted the positive interactions between the West and Islam throughout the course of history, the many contributions Muslim Americans make to their nation, and the dimensions of Islam he admired such as the advancement of learning and innovation.
If the White House wants to support interfaith dialogue and service on campus, good – but it would be troubling if the White House decided to take an official position that “religions have opposing values” is a false claim. Shouldn’t a conclusion like that be the result of dialogue, rather than a starting assumption? And doesn’t the American system leave judgments like that to religious communities, not the government?
Photo credit: Dutch soccer football fans at the World Cup, from loop_oh via Flickr