In the News: Profiling, Prince, Peaceniks and more!

A round-up of recent religion news. Continue Reading →

Moral Ambivalence in Modern China

From The Lancet, an article by Charles Stafford on Deep China: the Moral Life of the Person, a new book by Arthur Kleinman, Yunxiang Yan, Jing Jun, Sing Lee, Everett Zhang, Pan tianshu, Wu Fei, and Guo Jinhau (University of California Press, 2012):

Of course, mixed feelings are at the heart of ethical discourse and moral practice in all human societies. If life were simple, we wouldn’t have to think about morality very much—but life isn’t simple. What is striking in the case of China is that this “ordinary” moral ambivalence has played itself out against the backdrop of massive social experimentation. What if we try to wipe out our traditional cultural values and practices more or less overnight (as happened during the Cultural Revolution)? What if we restrict families to having one child (as happened with the family planning policy)? What if we take our rural youth and move them, en masse, to the cities (as is happening with the current wave of rural-to-urban migration)?

As anthropologists and others have shown, these experiments have generated an abundance of unintended consequences. Continue Reading →

Not all Sex is a Scandal

Cain, Sandusky, Catholic Priests. Sex has been in the headlines a lot lately. But some important distinctions are getting lost in the rush to categorize offenses, blurring the difference between crimes against marriage with those against women or minors, or the crimes of institutions with those of individuals.

So much commentary about the cover up of sexual abuse at Penn State has wrongly made comparisons of the University to the Catholic Church. While both are large, patriarchal institutions, both have kept the long-term abuse of children under wraps for the sake of those in leadership positions, and both have all the ritualistic trappings that inspire devoted followers and protect strict hierarchical structures, Penn State is not the Roman Catholic Church. Continue Reading →

Saved and Sacked; Fruits and Roots

Taking a qeue from William James (and the bible), David Bromwich asks if it’s too late to examine the Obama-Bush presidency.  How has the first black president, who promised to return America to “the high moral ground” and by race and rhetoric signaled an allegiance to equality and justice, proven to be the perfect ambassador of the last Bush’s policies? War.  Torture. Financial titans.  Bromwich lists those advisors and public servants Obama chose to keep or let go and draws conclusions about Obama’s moral compass from the record.

(h/t Marilyn Young for the frame) Continue Reading →