Friday Links

–Ludwig von Mises versus Christianity.

–20-plus years of Willie Nelson’s political endorsements.

–The media has stopped covering the unemployement crisis.

–The Stockholm Syndrome theory of long novels.

–An interview with Edward Glaeser, author of Triumph of the City.

–Why universal salvation is an evangelical option.

–A debate over Intelligent Design ensares an academic journal of philosophy.

–Goodbye birtherism, hello “otherism“?

–Chain restaurants try to adapt to the classic-cocktail renaissance.

–Everything you need to know about the apocalypse.

Odds and ends

In lieu of more substantive blogging…

Lent: I managed to make it to an Ash Wednesday service at lunchtime yesterday, but I have no grandiose plans for Lenten discipline. Every year it’s tempting to think that I’ll really get back on track (after the seemingly inevitable decline in my churchgoing, prayer life, Bible reading, almsgiving, repenting, etc.). But things have been so hectic with the baby that I haven’t even really thought about it this year. I did start re-reading Matthew’s gospel last night, so maybe that’ll stick.

Reading: My wife convinced me to start reading the Harry Potter series. I’d always resisted it for some reason or another, but some friends convinced her to start and she convinced me. And, hey, they’re really good! Just the sort of light, fun reading I’d been needing for a while. I’m about a third of the way into the third book (The Prisoner of Azkaban). So far I’ve liked each one more than the last. (I think part of my initial resistance was due to the movies I’ve seen, which never really grabbed me. But I now realize that much of the charm of Rowling’s books didn’t translate very effectively to the big screen.) I’m also still working my way through John Haught’s Making Sense of Evolution at a relatively leisurely pace.

Politics: I’m bummed by the apparent victory of Gov. Walker and his fellow Republicans in Wisconsin and alarmed by the increased sabre-rattling for war with Libya (although NATO seems to have stepped back a bit from the brink). On the other hand, Illinois just abolished the death penalty and Maryland may yet legalize same-sex marriage, so that’s something.

Music: I’ve been listening to the new albums from Irish folk-metal band Darkest Era and progressive metalcore outfit The Human Abstract. Very different albums, but I like them both quite a bit so far.

Theology: The Rob Bell flare-up and the broader debate over universalism have been roiling much of the Christian blogosphere for the last couple weeks. I don’t have much to add to this beyond what I already posted. I guess at the end of the day I fall into the “hopeful universalist” rather than the “dogmatic universalist” camp. As Gerhard Forde once said, dogmatic universalism seems like an attempt to tie God’s hands with an abstraction. Much better to rest one’s hope on the concrete word of grace given in the Gospel.

Booze: I agree with my friend Paul Smith that Bulleit bourbon is one of the best values out there–a really good, moderately priced bourbon. I’m therefore excited to learn from him that they’ve come out with a rye whiskey.

In defense of pleasure

I liked this article at Slate making what should be an obvious point: whatever health benefits it may be shown to have, it’s OK to drink wine because it tastes good and makes you feel good! The “medicalization” of food and drink, where everything is touted for its (real or imagined) health benefits, has gone way too far. Other things being equal, pleasure for its own sake is good!

Adventures in brown liquor

I’d been hearing for a while that rye whisky was making something of a comeback. It seems that it was the preferred whisky of pre-Prohibition America and in fact many classic cocktails (e.g. the Manhattan, my fave) were originally made with rye. Happily, we’re not far from this place, so I went this weekend and picked up a bottle of Rittenhouse Rye.

My verdict: tasty! It has a unique flavor: spicier and not as sweet as bourbon, but also not smoky like a lot of Scotch. I put a bit too much vermouth in my drink, making it overly sweet, but once I perfect the ratio I’ll be all set.

"It's good for what ails ya!"

“A wholly American and appropriate indulgence”

“An Ode to Bourbon”

‘Nuff said.

Water of life

What my sweetie got me to ease the transition into my (sigh) mid-30s.

On the bright side, while sharing a birthday with Brother Martin, I did not turn 525.

Bourbon’s moment

Bourbon’s shot at the big time (via).

Recently I’ve been enjoying a bottle of Elmer T. Lee single barrel out of Frankfort, KY. I’ve long been more partial to bourbon than other kinds of whiskey. Though I won’t turn my nose up at a fine Irish whiskey like Bushmill’s.