Monday Links: Science, Philosophy, Lincoln, Douglas, and my #1 B-Day Song

Calvin College has a cool series of lectures by some big names on the relationship between science and religion. Check it out.

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In light of Peter’s review of Team of Rivals I checked out Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America by Allen C. Guelzo. The book is a bit tedious to read, but that is because the subject matter is highly complex. To understand the significance of the Lincoln-Douglas debates one has to grasp the context in which they arose, which is no small task. Today, where the mere mention of word “nigger” can trigger an open and shut hate crime case, we observe the social and political climate of 1858 as if we were aliens from outer space. I am about half way through, and I already have an immense admiration for Lincoln; his political wisdom and courage are simply unmatched.

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Looking around for more commentary on the historical debates, Guelzo has a piece published (February) in the Washington Post to complement the debut of his book. There, you can get the 5-minute history lesson and a good insight on how our society has dumbed down political debate. The televised monstrosities we have today barely scratch the surface of vital issues of importance, and only elicit 30 second responses that come complete in canned talking-point form. What is worse is that the questions now come not from the candidates themselves, but from streaming YouTube videos handpicked by some faceless editorial board. Back then it was an hour-opening/hour and half-response/half hour-rebuttal that mostly focused on one issue! Lincoln’s plain appearance and love for logical exposition wouldn’t stand a chance in today’s sound bite era.

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Considering the current campaign it would have been interesting to see McCain and Obama contend in a series of Town Hall meetings all across America. It would not be exactly like Lincoln and Douglas, but it would be the closest thing since. Too bad Obama turned down McCain’s challenge, but that was probably the smart thing for him to do. It’s safer for him to give rousing speeches to German throngs than to engage in an extensive debate over the issues in front of the American people. Of course, the histories of open air American debate and stump-speaking to hysterical Germans displays a contrast of strategies that could not be more stark…

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On a lighter note the #1 song on the day I was born was “Kiss You All Over” by Exile. Oh well.

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4 thoughts on “Monday Links: Science, Philosophy, Lincoln, Douglas, and my #1 B-Day Song

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