Debating Duck-Duck-Goose↑

So I imagine you are familiar with the game duck-duck-goose? Probably played it as a child. All but one starts out sitting down in a position. Then the one on the outside goes around chooses one person to be the “goose” they then have to jump up and try to run and tag the person before they get back and can sit in the “gooses” now vacant seat. Lots of fun. Well, I’ve recently noticed this phenomena in a few other realms.

About a week ago I was listening to a debate by two constitutional lawyers who were discussing the concept of what is so special about religious freedom. Why do some call it the “first freedom.” Throughout the debate I found myself typically agreeing with one of the speakers more than the other. Then towards the end the other speaker articulated a point that I expected the first to be fully in agreement with. But because of the nature of debate he couldn’t agree. So he had to get up and run around to the now vacant viewpoint of the other speaker. Listening I found it almost humorous.

I also have noticed it in another series of debates. For those in the USA I imagine it has been hard to not have been exposed to some form of “Tebow-Mania.” I’m from Denver and a big Broncos fan so I’ve enjoyed following this story. It becomes humorous though to listen to the “experts” debate what is going on and what the explanation for it all is. They end up picking sides and then as they debate invariably end up switching viewpoints. If the other speaker starts articulating something too close to their own views they run around and take up the now vacated view the other speaker used to hold.

So what? It’s just an observation that in many venues agreement is boring. We don’t really want consensus. Our own viewpoint is so often driven not by consistency with our own principles but just in distance from the person we are debating. We define ourselves not by what we are but by what we are not. We can’t stomach a perceived convergence between our views and someone with whom we “ought” to disagree. In the end we are playing a form of logical or principle duck-duck-goose.


Reading Today’s Stories…12/4→

So it has been quite a while since I have posted links in this format. I’m just going to post a few blogs or videos that I’ve been reading recently.


Two coats that don’t fit | Journalist in Turkey –

I really enjoyed this blog post from Frederike Geerdink on learning a language and living in another culture. It changes how you see the world and how you fit into the world.

Why? Turkey suits me, to start with. But also, I have been here for five years this month, and I have reached a point of being in between countries, or, you could say, in between identities. Changing coats is a suitable metaphor for that.

Read the whole story: here

What Languages are the Hardest to Learn? « Just a Word

Keeping with the idea of language learning, ever wondered what the hardest language is to learn? klizbarker shares an info graphic that attempts to quantify this. It’s put by the U.S. State Department and so approaches the question from an English standpoint. It’s interesting.

Check it out: here

Apologize to Peter Schiff – YouTube

One of the great (usually) things about the prevalence of digital media is that just about everything is documented. A friend recently shared this link that is a montage of interviews with conservative economist Peter Schiff. Admittedly, I am not an economist. I also have not spend too much time digging into the causes of the recession in the United States and Europe in the past few years. I’ve also not heard of Peter Schiff before this week. It is fairly obvious though when you listen to these clips whose conception of the future turned out to be more accurate.


What I’ve read recently↑

I’m not going to post a full review but have not written recently and wanted to at least share a few links.

If you are looking for an in-depth scholarly treatment of Turkish history (and let’s face it, who isn’t these days?) check out Turkey: A Modern History by Erik Zurcher.

I’ve also just finished God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics by Monica Duffy Toft, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy Shah. I will definitely be writing a full review of that book in the coming days. I really enjoyed it. It is a book written by political scientists dealing with the question of “does religion matter in Global Politics?” and if so why and what the implications of that are. If it sounds interesting to you I would encourage you to check it out.

Also of note, Time magazine ran a cover story on Turkish PM Recep Erdogan. If you haven’t – or even if you have – been following the events of the Middle East over the past few months this will help give some perspective for what is going on when people talk about “The Turkish Model” or why people are looking to Turkey. Also as the USA and other western countries seem hesitant to support Syria like they did in Libya many are looking to Turkey and specifically Erdogan to take the lead. He is certainly a polarizing figure but one that is worth learning more about.

Another Sad Story↑

So for those of you in the United States you have undoubtedly heard about the scandal currently being investigated at Penn State University. The football program is one of the most storied, the coach is already legendary, and the actions of one former assistant have tarnished the memory of all of that, and the lives of a number of young people were drastically impacted.

I don’t really want to add to the tons of articles being written about this. There is plenty out there if you want to find more details about it. What I do want to share is the mental journey that I went through as soon as I heard about this story. Actually the NBC Nightly News segment linked below also took a similar direction. NBC Nightly News

“The sexual abuse of young kids by a trusted authority figure”

Sounds terribly familiar, huh? Just within the United States over the past few decades we have had this or similar scenarios play out over and over again. From the Catholic Church, to the Boy Scouts, and within the most conservative and religious elements of our society as the 20/20 special from April covered. Now to a leader of a football program that was built on a code of honor.

I think for myself when I heard about these incidents as they occurred over the past 10 or 15 years I looked at the institution as lack having some unique dynamic that created this circumstance. But what really do a state university football program, conservative Evangelical Christianity, the Boy Scouts, and the Catholic Church have in common?

Human beings.

That’s about as far as the connections go. Yet, I think that is enough. I think all of these terrible scenarios expose the nature of man as a sinful being who when left to himself is capable of committing awful acts. As a Christian, I find the Bible describes this in a number of places and most notable in this scenario the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. I’m not going to turn “expositional” here but in that portion of his letter Paul is writing to show how all mankind is in need of a righteousness that can’t come from within.

The scandal at Penn State is another reminder to me of how the heart of man is corrupt and for righteousness to come from it can only be the result of something supernatural.

20/20 – “Shattered Faith”

Monday Night Jihad by Jason Elam←

Monday Night Jihad

by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn

Product Description

After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Riley Covington is living his dream as a professional linebacker when he comes face-to-face with a radical terrorist group on his own home turf. Drawn into the nightmare around him, Riley returns to his former life as a member of a special ops team that crosses oceans in an attempt to stop the escalating attacks. But time is running out, and it soon becomes apparent that the terrorists are on the verge of achieving their goal: to strike at the very heart of America.

My Review

To be honest, I told myself that I wasn’t going to read this book. I first saw it this summer and kind of laughed at the title. I just thought it would be too cheesy. Also, if you look at my reading from the last year (reading list) I’ve read quite a few books in this genre. So I just wasn’t going to read it, but then I started it and about 3 days later I was finished.

Part of what was so compelling for me was that I think I am like THE demographic this book was written for. First, I have been a huge fan of Jason Elam since he started his career as kicker for the Denver Broncos when I was 6 and gave me lots of happy moments growing up. All of the areas he describes around Denver are my own stomping grounds. So it is always enjoyable to read about that. I could have been one of the characters in the book: carrying concessions up and down the stands at games, stopping at Chick-Fil-A for Dr. Pepper even more than the great chicken. It was a book that I just identify with! So that made it fun to read. I was also pleasantly surprised with how they handled some of the issues in the book.

This book is explicitly Christian fiction. The authors are both committed followers of Christ, I don’t know for sure but expect they would identify themselves as Evangelical Christians, and that informs their writing. Unfortunately, there have been some Evangelical Christians who have been extremely misguided in their understanding of and approach to Islam. I was afraid this book would fall into that category but I don’t think that it does. The author’s intentionally show the vast difference between the majority of Muslims and those who engage in terrorism under the banner of Islam. They also show some of the reasons why terrorism happens beyond “the Sword verses and Islam is about violence” explanation, there are often political reasons and personal loss that drive many to do what they do.

I was grateful for the way the authors handled this subject. While there are certainly major differences between Christianity and Islam and the authors do not shy away from them and attempt to articulate why it is they believe Christianity is true and Islam is false, they do not resort to the hate-mongering, Islamophopia that some have done.

As far as the plot and character development itself, the book is somewhat predictable. The characters are likable and I just genuinely enjoyed the book. The descriptions of PFL (not to be confused with the NFL *wink wink) life are great and knowing they are coming from a 17 year veteran gives it credibility (even still I wondered if there is really THAT much puking??). The descriptions of military and law enforcement are plausible at least.

If you are looking for Christian fiction for a teenage+ guy this would be a solid choice. It’s got a lot of the things guys love (football, guns, violence) and is plenty of fun. I got this for free a few months ago but there are now 4 books in the series so we’ll see if I am able to keep away from reading the rest of them!

If you need an example of why Jason Elam holds a special place in my heart, besides just always being a genuinely good guy, this is just one of the 436 FG’s he made in his career: