Mubarak out–what’s next?

Seems like I should observe the big news of today, which, of course, is that Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak has given in to weeks of protests and relinquished power, despite that fact that as recently as yesterday, it looked like he was determined to hang on.

There seem to be plenty of legitimate questions about what exactly is going to happen next. Will the military, which has assumed power, facilitate a speedy and genuine transition to a more democratic regime? There’s also the question of the ongoing role of the U.S.–will our government, which has backed Mubarak all these years, refrain from trying to impose its will on the political outcome? Or will it support the emergence of another pliable strongman (like purported chief torturer Omar Suleiman)?

Still, it’s genuinely inspiring to see a popular, nonviolent uprising bring about what is potentially a hugely significant step forward for millions of people. Let’s hope the Egyptian people can make a go of it.

Friday links

–Do extraterrestrials have original sin?

–Brandon on Sam Harris’s argument for a science of morality

–How to build a progressive tea party

–Fox News thinks there’s only one English translation of the Bible

–This critique of Mad Men from the New York Review of Books scores some points

–A video (in two parts) featuring the late philosopher G.A. Cohen making the case against capitalism

–Theo Hobson on the religious crisis of American liberalism

–The case for casting Parks and Recreation’s Rashida Jones as Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman reboot

Obligatory Egypt post

I wish I had something interesting to say about the situation in Egypt besides “Go freedom and democracy!” But, like many opining on the events, what I know about Egyptian history, culture, and politics could fit on one side of a three-by-five-inch note card.

Here’s a good Nicholas Kristof column, reporting from the scene.

The Times news coverage seems pretty decent.

And the Al Jazeera live feed seems to be the go-to source for an informed, non-US-centric take on the events.

UPDATE: A journalist friend of mine recommends Juan Cole’s site: Informed Comment.

Friday links

– Many people have pointed to this omnibus post at Mother Jones that provides background, context, links, and ongoing updates on the situation in Egypt.

– Marvin writes on understanding apostolic poverty.

– At the blog Memoria Dei, a post discussing feminist theologian Mary Daly’s use of women’s experience as an analogue for the divine.

– Palgrave Macmillan and the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics have launched a new series of books on the ethical treatment of animals. So far, two titles have been published: An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory by Alasdair Cochrane and An Introduction to Animals and the Law by Joan E. Schaffner. The series is co-edited by Andrew Linzey and Priscilla Cohn.

– Crystal has a post discussing John Milbank’s and Keith Ward’s differing views on Kant (complete with a video of Ward lecturing on the subject).

– Rodney Clapp on giving yourself (and others) permission not to pray.

– The State of the Union and “semi-Niebuhrianism.”

– Kevin Drum on the virtues of a strong labor movement.

– Oasis and Radiohead: two very different British bands that defined alternative rock in the late ’90s.

Some links for the weekend

– Peter Singer on balancing concern for the environment with efforts to lift people out of poverty.

– Kevin Drum on the difference between liberals and libertarians.

– Bob Herbert on Sargent Shriver: “one of America’s great good men.”

– Peter Berger’s blog at The American Interest. (Here’s a piece on recent developments in American Lutheranism.)

– A three-part article from Derek on communing the unbaptized:1|2|3.

– Bls says the church needs a program. (Or does it already have one?)

– How Moby-Dick navigates between fanaticism and nihilism. And a previous piece on a similar topic by the same author.

– A killer new song from the German tech-death band Obscura.

Tortured reading

I haven’t been blogging on the torture issue, mostly because others are doing it far more justice than I even could.

But, in case you aren’t already reading them, Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, John Schwenkler, and Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings have been my regular sources of info and analysis on this.

Also see: this piece by Dahlia Lithwick. And here’s the website for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

UPDATE: First Things–yep, First Things–has a top-flight essay here.

Ah, sweet freedom

I’m not sure precisely what rights the Founders intended to protect with the Second Amendment, but I’m pretty sure they don’t include the right to sell AK-47s to Mexican drug cartels.


My two cents, for what it’s worth: I was happy to see more or less “anti-establishment” candidates win, continuing to undermine the “inevitability” theme that had been running through the campaign. Neither Huckabee nor Obama are my ideal candidate by any stretch, but I’d much rather see a match up between those two than, say, a Giuliani-Clinton race.

Huckabee continues to present an interesting challenge to conservative orthodoxy with his populist themes. I still don’t see these as translating into any very coherent policy positions, and I’m not sure I’d particularly like them if they did. But there’s something refreshing about his candidacy compared to the others. I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Republicans will work their way back to McCain before it’s all said and done, but then again, I also predicted that Al Gore would be the Democratic nominee.

I have so far been less impressed by Obama than some of my friends; his vaunted oratory which seemed to promise to magically transport us to a post-partisan, post-race, post-conflict happy land always struck me as so much hot air. I don’t need or want messianism from politicians. I’m also unsure about where exactly he stands on crucial issues, foreign policy in particular. That said, I’ve always found him preferable to Hillary Clinton, so I can’t be too unhappy about his win.

Catch-all blog update post

Sorry about the dearth of posting: a confluence of extreme busyness, travel, and computer issues has put a cramp in my blogging style. Although one perk is that I’ve been forced to detach from the various teapot-sized tempests roilling the blogosphere, which is always a benefit of time away from the computer.

We’re in Indiana visiting the in-laws for Christmas and enjoying some much needed R&R. In my free time I’ve been reading C. S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature. This is a marvelous little book in which Lewis delineates the worldview that underlies the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Sometimes I think Lewis has (unjustly) gotten a reputation as something of a shallow thinker due to the popular nature of his apologetic works, but in this book his incredible erudition is on full display, though tempered with his lucid and homey prose.

I’ve also been catching up on my magazine reading – that is, actual printed matter. I recommend this interesting article from Mother Jones on Ron Paul’s online following, as well as the current issue’s cover story (which doesn’t seem to be online yet), detailing the environmental consequences of China’s amazing economic growth. Also, Jason Byassee has a provocative article on pornography and “Christian eroticism” in this month’s First Things that is well worth checking out.

Other highlights of the trip so far: hanging out with my brother-in-law and his wife, a trip to Half Price Books (yea!), and taking in a civic theatre production of Joseph and the Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat.

Here’s a few of the notable links I’ve come across in the last couple of days: Wayne Pacelle on Animals and Christmas, two posts on Scripture from Elizaphanian, Marvin writes about stopping global warming, Christopher on recapturing the joy of the Christmas message and Christian living and in defense of the Virgin Birth.

I’m looking forward to the Christ Mass tonight at a local Anglo-Catholic Episcopal parish – the same one we attended last year. For a variety of reasons I’ve had a hard time getting into the spirit this Christmas, but I think this will be just what the doctor ordered.

I hope everyone reading has a verry Merry Christmas!

Moneybags Paul

Ron Paul raised $4.2 million in Internet contributions in a 24-hour period yesterday as part of a concerted fundraising campaign. Wow!

Paul’s total deposed Mitt Romney as the single-day fundraising record holder in the Republican presidential field. When it comes to sums amassed in one day, Paul now ranks only behind Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton, who raised nearly $6.2 million on June 30, and Barack Obama.