1) George Weigel on WWI: After reciting in some detail the effects of the assassination across the network of alliances, he shelves the question of why it started to ask the possibly more interesting one of why it continued, long after stalemate and mutual, interminable misery had set in. His answer, in so many words: the eschaton had been immanentized. That is, the painstaking analysis of who-said-and-did-what-to-whom-when only applies to understanding the start of war; thereafter world-historical forces simply run their blind course - and that’s all we need to know.
2) John Burgess on the Orthodox Church in Russia: it makes you rub your eyes to take a second look, but following the systematic elimination of religion in Russia under Stalin, the church is back in full force, or close to it. Where 50,000 parishes were active prior to the October Revolution, 30,000 have returned. Monasteries and seminaries are flourishing. Some 80% of Russians (I believe, it was pretty late last night when I went through this) identify as Orthodox Christians, and the churches are packed on Easter. Our countless prayers for the conversion of Russia appear to have kicked in. One difficulty: getting these newly avowed Christians to pack the churches for the rest of the year - that perennial challenge - and to move away from the consumerism that has accompanied the end of Communism. Another, and more profound, difficulty: to promote the proper function of the church independently of the influences of the state that has so vigorously backed its return.
- On the third DVD of his Catholicism series, Fr. Barron brings his profound gift for revivifying dogma to Anselm's old proof of Gods existence. (Recall: God is that greater than which nothing can be thought; that which cannot be thought not to be is greater than that which can be thought not to be; therefore, to think God at all - and that's what we're doing right now - is to acknowledge his existence.) Barron concentrates, not on the proof itself (a wise move), but just on the first premise, unpacking its implications. As Anselm describes him, God cannot be a thing among things. For if you take any finite thing, even if it were the greatest thinkable thing, and add the rest of the world to it, you get a yet greater thing. But this is not the case with esse ipsum (Barron slips in Aquinas' definition): God lacks nothing, and would not become any greater by acquiring this or that. Hence God is not a thing among things. And what this does make him is something quite foreign to our thinking indeed.
- Morozov's To Save Everything, Click Here has been reviewed in the New Atlantis. "Expectations and assumptions are buried within each bit of software, within every app that compiles data. But solutionists rarely examine those assumptions, in no small part because 'the urge to replace human judgments with timeless truths produced by algorithms is the underlying driving force of solutionism.'" Snarky, but true, at least up to the part about timeless truths - I myself don't see the techies claiming to to that. The article continues, decrying the lack of historical awareness among technorati: "History offers us a chance to learn about something our techno-utopians utterly lack, something for which there is not and never will be an algorithm: humility." Snarky again, but true. It's worth noting that the book has been panned elsewhere - I just can’t remember exactly where! Btw, you can find a trove of Morozov’s articles at http://evgenymorozov.com/writings.html.
- Washington Post - Legalizing pot has led to a surge in heroin. The cartels have to sell something in order to survive, and legalized marijuana has dramatically reduced demand. Plus, tighter laws on prescription painkillers has helped grow the market. You can get a hit for just $4. So for less than a weekly paycheck at minimum wage, you can now develop one of the most devastating addictions known to man. And in such bucolic places as Brattleboro, VT.