Notable links from the week, with a smattering of commentary

Buzzfeed(!) profiles pioneering Catholic feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson. I blogged about Johnson’s book She Who Is back in 2009–see here, here, here, and here.

Nadia Bolz Weber preached a good Ash Wednesday sermon.

Rep. Paul Ryan thinks free school lunches are bad for kids’ souls. I take this a bit personally since I got free lunches when I was a kid and don’t think my soul is particularly worse off for it. You know what is bad for your spiritual and moral development? Being too poor to eat.

David Brooks wrote a great column about the evils of solitary confinement.

A wonderful essay from the New York Review of Books on the “secret life” of W. H. Auden. Apparently the great poet–who was also Christian, if a somewhat idiosyncratic one–did a lot of surreptitious charitable works, even when it made him look like a jerk in public.

The impending publication of some of his journals reignite the debate about whether philosopher Martin Heidegger was an anti-Semite.

The Democratic primary for D.C. mayor is next month, and the Washington Post has put together a helpful guide on where the candidates stand on various issues. I’m still undecided on this.

Political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. published an essay in Harper’s (not available online) about what he says (apparently; I haven’t actually read the essay) is the long decline of the American Left and its over-investment in the electoral fortunes of the Democratic Party.  This garnered some push-back from various quarters (see here, here, and here, among others); Reed replied to some of these criticisms here. I’m probably less left-wing than most of the participants to this argument, but it’s hard to deny that conservatives have been more successful than the Left in recent decades in building a grass-roots movement that can drive policy changes. The GOP is far more beholden to the conservative movement than the Dems are to the Left. I don’t think, however, that investing in such a movement should prevent anyone from supporting the superior alternative (or lesser evil if you prefer) in a given election. And for left-of-center folks this will almost invariably be the Democrat.

On the situation in Ukraine, and the persistent demands that the U.S. “do something,” I found this helpful.

Music-wise, I’m still on a St. Vincent kick. Here’s a great live session from a couple of years ago.

Rand Paul’s top-down conservatism

Continuing the grand congressional tradition of monkeying with local D.C. affairs, supposedly libertarian G.O.P. senator Rand Paul has introduced amendments to a bill granting the District budget autonomy that would dictate city policies on guns, abortion, and unions.

From the Washington Post:

One Paul amendment would require the District to allow residents to obtain concealed weapon permits for handguns, and would require the city to honor permits issued to residents of other states. Another amendment would make the District “establish an office for the purpose of facilitating the purchase and registration of firearms by DC residents,” in response to reports that there is only one licensed gun dealer in the city.

Paul has also submitted an amendment to codify the city-funded abortion ban. The prohibition — a continuing source of frustration for local leaders that is strongly supported by anti-abortion groups — has been extended via appropriations bills every year that Republicans have controlled one or both chambers of Congress since the mid-1990s.

Paul proposed another amendment saying “membership in a labor organization may not be applied as a precondition for employment” in the District, and protecting employees “from discrimination on the basis of their membership status” in a union.

Note that what’s at issue in this bill is whether or not the District gets to decide how to spend its own money raised by local taxes. (“Wait,” you say, “D.C. doesn’t already have that authority? But that’s crazy!” Indeed.) But for freedom-loving Rand Paul, it’s an opportunity to engage in some social engineering, conservative-style.

More on cycling, mostly links

Okay, maybe the hottest day of the year (so far) wasn’t the most opportune moment to start biking to work regularly. But I got my shiny new Capital Bikeshare key in the mail over the weekend and couldn’t resist trying it out. I’ve also finally found a route that’s both efficient and bike-friendly.

Anyway, I’ve been poking around the Internet a bit looking for articles and other resources on biking, and thought I’d share a few.

First, friend of the blog Russell Arben Fox has written about his biking experiences, accompanied by some of his his inimitable politico-philosophical reflections:

Cycling commuters, unite!

Cycling and the simple (socialist?) life

Russell’s posts led me to this site, and this post in particlar about cycling as a means of self-sufficiency and resistance to consumerism and “lifestyle marketing.” It also has links to a bunch of resources, advocacy sites, and cycling blogs. (In case you were wondering, there is a “slow bicycle” movement.)

Here are some other noteworthy links:

League of American Bicyclists

National Center for Bicycling and Walking

And some DC-specific links:

Commuter Connections: Bicycling

Washington Area Bicyclist Association

The Capital Bikeshare site also has some good resources on safety and exploring the area by bike.

The cycling life

Grist has a really good article on DC’s popular new(ish) bikeshare program, arguing that a “bikeshare system can make fundamental change happen in a city.” Also see this article: “The Real Reason Why Bicycles Are the Key to Better Cities.”

I used Capital Bikeshare for the first time the other day and thought it was great. Over the last 3-and-a-half years I’ve typically walked to work, but our new place is a bit farther from my office, requiring about a 45-minute jaunt. Using the bikeshare though, I can hop on a bike at a station one block from our house and be at work in under half an hour. I hadn’t been on a bike in nearly 10 years and had forgotten how much fun it is.

Friday Links

I spent the day hanging out with my family, so these are coming a little late…

–Why Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is neither brave nor serious.

–Free-range meat isn’t necessarily “natural.”

–A case for universalism from the Scottish evangelical preacher and biblical scholar William Barclay.

–A review of a recent book called What’s the Least I can Believe and Still Be a Christian?

–The WaPo reviews a local prog-metal band called Iris Divine (here’s their MySpace page).

–Do Americans love war?

–Speaking of war, April 12 marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter and the onset of the Civil War. I’m thinking of marking the anniversary by finally tackling James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom this spring.

–As I write this, it looks like the two parties are getting close to a budget agreement that will avert a government shutdown. But I still wanted to note that a shutdown would have a major impact on the District itself, shutting down a number of basic city services. This is something that hasn’t gotten much attention.

–The AV Club continues its feature “Loud”–a monthly review of the latest in punk, hardcore, metal, and noise.

Friday Links

–John Cohn at The New Republic on the end of “compassionate conservatism.”

–Should life be more like a game?

— The rise of white identity politics in DC?

–From Book Forum, a collection of links on how we treat animals. (I guess that makes this a meta-link?)

–How Pearl Jam went from being the biggest rock band in the world to a niche act.

–The Thomas Paine-John Adams debate about economic equality in the early American republic.

–I’m not sure the Ramones were the best candidate for an AV Club “Gateways to Geekery” feature. What band could be easier to get into? Just start listening with the first album–it pretty much establishes the template for everything else.

–Joe Klein is shrill.

–More on the flap over Elizabeth Johnson’s book from Daniel Horan, OFM, here and here.

Friday Links

–Today is the Feast of the Annunciation; here are some thoughts on that. BLS also has one of her outstanding musical offerings for the day.

–John Piper, theological nihilist?

–Catholics are “more supportive of legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall.”

–How to live without a mobile phone.

–A proposal for a vegan-omnivore alliance against factory farms. Related: Mark Bittman on prospects for laws protecting farm animals.

–A semi-defense of B.R. Myers’ anti-foodie polemic.

–On the anniversary of Bishop Oscar Romero’s assassination.

–Washington, D.C.’s black majority slips away. Related: the percentage of the nation’s black population living in the South has hit its highest point in fifty years.

–An interesting blog I recently discovered: Marginal Utility, hosted at PopMatters; it covers the culture of work and technology from a leftish perspective.

–Why is media coverage of Africa so unrelentingly negative?

–The Lutheran theology journal Dialog currently has its Spring 2011 issue available free online; it includes some reflections on Carl Braaten’s recently released memoir, which apparently (and not surprisingly) has some harsh words for the ELCA. Added later: Here’s another take on the Braaten autobiography from last year.

–Let the D.C. beer renaissance begin.

Added even later: Gateways to Geekery: Kurt Vonnegut.

Meet the new boss

Right-wing Utah congressman Jason Chafetz is poised to become the new chair of the committee for overseeing D.C. affairs. On his agenda: overturning same-sex marriage in the District and curtailing District autonomy more generally.

Really makes the whole “no representation” thing stick in your craw.

Mid-week links

– 2010’s was the hottest June on record in Washington, D.C. (I believe it!)

– Glenn Beck pulicizes liberation theology.

– On the authority of the Bible. (And more.)

– Is Amazon killing the publishing business?

– Keith Ward argues that there are things science can’t explain.

– The ideology of marriage.

– I heartily concur with this review of the new Soilwork album. I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the last two weeks.

– The hyphen is your friend.

– Against new-book hype.

– God is a materialist.

The ballot or the bullet

The Washington City Paper has a good–albeit depressing!–autopsy of the failure to pass the DC voting rights act this year. Bottom line: blame the NRA and its lackeys in Congress.