Ragan Sutterfield on the “Social Value of Fruit Trees”
Imagine what it would be like to go to a long-neglected neighborhood where fresh fruits and vegetables are all but absent and find apple, pear, peach, pecan, and walnut trees everywhere. The amount of food these trees would produce would be immense—around 5 or more bushels from one apple tree. Imagine the productive power of a once empty lot with five mature trees!
Beyond the ecological qualities of trees and the food they produce, there is also a social value that fruit trees bring. As Liberty Hyde Bailey writes in his excellent pamphlet, The Apple Tree, “Life does not seem regular and established when there is no apple-tree in the yard and about the buildings, no orchards blooming in the May and laden in the September, no baskets heaped with the crisp smooth fruits; without all of these I am a foreigner, sojourning in a strange land.” Fruit and nut trees create a certain kind of domestication. In neighborhoods that have been blighted these trees could be powerful symbols of growth and vitality.
Read the full article:
The Apple Tree.
Liberty Hyde Bailey.
Pamphlet: Doulos Christou Press, 2008.
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A Review of Bas Van Fraassen’s
What does The Haywain represent? Or Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie? How about Rothko’s Red on Maroon? In the case of the Constable painting, the answer seems straightforward, and we can even visit the site of the scene he sketched (more or less). Mondrian, rejecting the distinction between abstract and representational art, himself suggested that his work represented structure. But with Rothko, talk of representation seems inappropriate.
What about scientific theories? Certainly they’re not easily comparable to a Rothko, but are they more like The Haywain or Broadway Boogie Woogie? The notion of representation has recently risen to prominence in the philosophy of science, with arguments and examples imported from the world of art.
Bas van Fraassen has played a leading role in these discussions, grappling with representation and its mechanism from the perspective of the empiricist stance he first took in his now-classic text, The Scientific Image. Densely argued, erudite and rich in examples from both art and science, his latest book expands on his John Locke Lectures, given at Oxford in 2001, to cover not just representation, but also measurement and models, structuralism and, finally, the distinction between appearance and reality.
Read the full review:
Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective
Bas C. van Fraassen
Hardcover, Oxford UP, 2008
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The Christian Century reviews
Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Citizenshttp://www.theolog.org/blog/2008/11/on-the-shelf-collateral-damage-by-chris-hedges-and-laila-al-arian.html…
In Collateral Damage, Chris Hedges (author of War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning) and Laila Al-Arian interview 50 American veterans of the war in Iraq. Many talk freely about the atrocities against innocent civilians being carried out by Americans in Iraq. For some interviewees, this openness seems to be a way of dealing with their own sense of culpability and guilt.One of the problems is that the rules of engagement aren’t always clear—or they don’t work amid chaos. Commanders seem to deliberately disregard the Geneva Conventions. One soldier tells the authors that the real rule of engagement is to “cover your own butt.” In other words, shoot first rather than be shot, then sort out the mess later. The main mission is to get out of there alive.
Many American soldiers and Marines also take with them a cultural or racial bias. It is common for Americans in combat to refer to Iraqis as “f—ing hajis.” (Among Muslims, “haji” is an honorary term for those who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca.) Iraqis sometimes are even called “camel jockeys” or “sand niggers.”
Read the full review:
America’s War Against Iraqi Citizens
Christopher Hedges and Laila Al-Arian
Hardcover: Nation Books, 2008.
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FIRST THINGS reviews
Justice: Rights and Wrongs by Nicholas Wolterstorffhttp://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6337
Nicholas Wolterstorff is a gifted moral philosopher and among the most eminent Christian scholars in any discipline. His project in Justice: Rights and Wrongs is to ground—to “account for,” as he puts it—the language, morality, and reality of human rights and for the “deep structure of the moral order.” The book is, in some ways, a work of righteous anger—an “attempt to speak up for the wronged of the world”—but it is unfailingly warm, inviting, and humane. The exposition is unapologetically theistic, but never awkwardly apologetical. Even those who are not trained philosophers, and who might not appreciate the significance of each move executed or every distinction drawn, can appreciate his defense of “our moral subculture of rights.”
“There are,” Wolterstorff insists, “natural human rights,” and “human beings, all of them, are irreducibly precious.” This is true, but how is it true? What makes it true? Wolterstorff concludes that “it is impossible to develop a secular account of human dignity adequate for grounding human rights” and challenges his readers to confront squarely the “unsettling question”—the challenge issued by Nietzsche—that this failure raises. In the end, Wolterstorff proposes that “being loved by God” alone “gives a human being great worth.”
In the first part of his book , Wolterstorff presents and defends his basic thesis that the “inherent rights” of human beings—not right order, not social utility, not preference-satisfaction—are at the root of justice. His aim is to engage and displace a particular narrative—a “story of decline”—in which “the dominance in ancient and earlier medieval times of the concept of the right and the conception of justice as right order” somehow slides down to the “dominance in modern times of the concept of rights and the conception of justice as founded in natural rights.”
Read the full review:
Justice: Rights and Wrongs
Hardcover: Princeton UP, 2008.
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