Four links

While checking the links on our page of “General Interest Blogs and Miscellaneous” to make sure they were all still live, I noticed a few things I wanted to mention.

Via the Ancient World Bloggers Group, an article in MacLean‘s asks whether religious universities serve the public good. 

Chris Clarke explains why “Desert Solar is Not Renewable Energy

Duncan Mitchel claims that “The scale of the crimes involved in the case of US Presidents is far greater than even Popes.” 

Ross Cowan has posted a couple of things (here and here) about the phalanx in ancient Rome

Sexuality, Women, and the Movies

Eve Tushnet promotes her review of some recent film release with a mock headline declaring it  “A terrific date movie!  Unless you’re heterosexual or something.”  I love that “or something.”  I’m not sure whether she includes her non-heterosexual self among those for whom the picture is a less than terrific date movie. 

Click to read

Click to read

Friend of the blog Duncan Mitchel has recently put up two posts (here and here) about something that Tushnet’s line reminded me of.  In a 1985 edition of her strip Dykes to Watch Out For, cartoonist Alison Bechdel lays out a test for movies.  “One, it has to have at least two women in it; who, two, talk to each other about, three, something besides a man.”  Duncan calls this “Liz Warren’s Rule,” because Alison says she got it from her friend Liz Warren.  In his first post, Duncan looks at some published works that predate the DTWOF strip and include precursors of the Rule; in his second, he describes a South Korean movie that surprises him by meeting the requirements of the Rule.  Some of the precursors seem to me a bit harsh; for example, in an essay published in 1975 Samuel R. Delany wrote that “any novel that does not, in this day and age, have a strong, central, positive relation between women can be dismissed as sexist (no matter the sex of the author) from the start.”  A woman who had written a novel which did not have such a relation at its center might be rather surprised to find Mr Delany dismissing her work as sexist, but that’s what the guy said.

Buick’s target demographic

Via our friend Duncan Mitchel‘s blog:


Terry Eagleton’s “Reflections on the God Debate”

eagleton bookVia 3quarksdaily, an interview in which Terry Eagleton discusses his book, first published this March, Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate.  In his introduction, the interviewer quotes Eagleton as saying that the “New Atheists” (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc) “buy their rejection of religion on the cheap.”  In the interview, he enlarges on this point, claiming that Dawkins and his ilk reduce religions to sets of propositions and behave as if arguments for and against these propositions were grounds for accepting or rejecting religions.  So far from being new, this approach represents positivism at its most naive.  They ask only, “What do the believers say about their creeds?,” never “What do believers accomplish by saying what they do about their creeds?”  For Eagleton, the life of the religion is in the relationship between beliefs and actions, and it is a ruinous mistake to treat a system of religious beliefs in the same abstract way that we would treat the propositions in a geometric proof.  Indeed, this is the same mistake fundamentalists make:

NS: You say he emphasizes a “propositional” account of religious faith above a “performative” one. But how far can one go believing in God performatively, through political acts, before it becomes a proposition?

TE: All performatives imply propositions. There’s no point in my operating a performative like, say, promising, or cursing, unless I have certain beliefs about the nature of reality: that there is indeed such an institution as promising, that I am able to perform it, and so on. The performative and the propositional work into each other. But it is a typically positivist kind of mistake to begin with the propositional, just as it would be for someone trying to analyze a literary text, which is basically a performance. Somebody who didn’t grasp that would be making a root-and-branch mistake about the kind of thing being confronted. These new atheists, and, indeed, the great majority of believers, have been conned rather falsely into a positivist or dogmatic theology, into believing that religion consists in signing on for a set of propositions.