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[Kara Slade] Unauthorized disclosures: Unmanned aerial vehicles, aerospace systems design, and the problem of “engineering ethics,” Part 1

I wrote this paper last spring and proposed it for the annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics.  It wasn’t accepted, and I’m not completely sure why, but the only comment I received from the reviewers was “What about the voices of the victims?”  One of the points I was trying to make in the paper was that those voices are faintly heard, if at all, by those who design and build UAV’s.  There are many aspects to the problem of the use of drones that I don’t address here – I’m writing as an engineer who cares deeply about engineering education and the moral formation that happens (or doesn’t happen) in that environment.  I’ll be posting an edited version here as a series, in the hope that someone may find something in it useful as Christian ethics tries to speak to the increasing reliance on this problematic technology. Read more

An Open Letter of Pastoral Admonition to Governor Rick Perry

Dear Governor Perry,


I am concerned that you are encouraging a climate of fear, and, perhaps inadvertently, participating in a culture of death.

I am a Texan (born in Graham), a Methodist, and an evangelical.  I am also, by conscience, a pro-life Christian.  I care deeply about Christian ethics, and I pray daily for the state of our country.  I am writing to you with these matters in common, hoping that my appeal to you will find a hearing.

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Why I went ON and then OFF and then ON and then OFF of Facebook

Empires rarely learn in time because power tends to dull people’s capacity for critical self-reflection.

– Robert Jensen (School of Journalism, University of Texas), “The Imperial Delusions of the United States,” Al Jazeera

The royal consciousness with its program of achievable satiation has redefined our notions of humanness…It has created a subjective consciousness concerned only with self-satisfaction…It has so enthroned the present that a promised future, delayed but certain, is unthinkable.

– Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

In the busy, teeming crowd, which as community is both too much and too little, man becomes weary of society, but the cure is not in making the discovery that God’s thought was incorrect.  No, the cure is precisely to learn all over again the most important thing, to understand oneself in one’s longing for community.

– Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love

I am writing this on Søren Kierkegaard’s feast day in the calendar of the Episcopal Church.  He died childless, having written in the language of an obscure little country.  He could’ve written in German, but he wrote in Danish.  He chose to write locally, for the people he both loathed and loved.  His neighbors drove him crazy, for their provincial views and their lack of appreciation of truly real, reflective life.  But they were also his neighbors, his kin, and he wanted to write for their confusion and edification. Read more

Matt Morin: The good gift of the game

Our guest writer is Matt Morin, a native of Milwaukee who now studies at Duke Divinity School. Before coming to seminary, Matt was a fighter in Mixed Martial Arts – a “cage fighter.” He is thinking through a number of related questions involving masculinity and gender; competition, domination and submission; classism and economic rhetoric. It’s such a joy to welcome Matt to these pages.

Last Sunday, Mark Oppenheimer wrote a piece for the New York Times in which he shared the story of a tennis player who had recently become aware of his own growing competitive streak. The article raises interesting questions about the Christian’s relationship to the world of sports—and more broadly calls attention to the ways in which each of us is formed by the widespread trope of “competition.”

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The intersection of beauty and pain: a conversation on “The Help”

The recent hit movie The Help has invited conversation across the country about race and gender relations in the South.  I invited three friends (Chalice Overy, Michelle Bullock, and Courtney Bryant) to come over and talk through their impressions.  Topics include the resonances (and differences) between aspects of this film and Toni Morrison’s Beloved and The Bluest Eye, the unwritten (and often unspoken) rules that govern interactions between people of different races in the South, and J. Kameron Carter’s reading of the film, “It Ain’t About Black Women, It’s About White Women.”

Do be forewarned that we spoil all surprises here.  Please feel free to link reviews you found helpful, and post your own perspective on the film!

vimeo Direct link: The Help

Other potentially helpful reviews to get you started:

It Helps to Be White,” Natalie Hopkinson, The Root

The Help: A Feel-Good Movie That Feels Kind of Icky,” Dana Stevens,

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