When studying history, it’s hard to separate fact from interpretation. Chris Smith argues that it may not be possible. And even a simple question like when to use Obama’s middle name in textbooks has an ideological component. Meanwhile, faithful-LDS blogger DKL really gets it right in his defense of Fawn Brodie and No Man Knows My History. I especially liked this part:
Theres this dynamic that ensures that really flattering biographies of religious figures can only be written by atheists or non-believers. Specifically, to the extent that the religious figure accomplished amazing things, the atheist will attribute them to the figure. The believer will attribute them to God, and will posit weaknesses in the figure to make the accomplishments even more miraculous.
That is so true. (Also, he’s clearly mastered the art of the compliment: compliment people on skills/traits that they’re proud of.) On a related note, I finally got around to reading Eugene England’s famous essay “Blessing the Chevrolet” (because it was posted online). Naturally (being an atheist) I found it a little odd to read about him thanking his priesthood, his magic olive oil, and the Lord, while the mechanic who actually fixed the car was right there…
Here are some other subjects where we need to teach the controversy. Geology: Are diamonds really a girl’s best friend? Emily has found a hilarious alternate mineral choice! Mathematics: Martin Gardner (who died recently) was a famous skeptic who, nonetheless, was willing to take emotions as evidence in some cases (as I found when I read his novel). Linguistics: Chomsky made a difficult-to-falsify claim — which may, in the end, get falsified. Genealogy: Should you brag about your illustrious ancestor (even if it’s Blackbeard the pirate)?
In politics: Check out the new website America Speaking Out, especially some of the patriotic highlights. Meanwhile, it appears that the oil leak disaster is still leaking, and has reached the shore — jcfitzner blames the Randian mindset. Urban Koda separates the real libertarians from the posers. And djinn reminds us of the other reason why pouring crude oil straight into the ocean is a bad idea. The Liberals, naturally, think we need to start putting a real priority on renewable energy (which is why the proceeds from ExMormon are going to Solar Aid — people in the developing world don’t benefit from being dependent on fossil fuel any more than the rest of us do).
OK, enough heavy stuff. On to personal anecdotes!
The anecdote of the week is from Yep. Stuff. (I don’t want to spoil it for you — just go see!) Donna went to Paris to see the sculptures BYU banned, while Froggey had an eye-opening visit to exotic Wendover. KingM had a nightmarish experience with a certain financial institution, whereas Jana had an inspiring one.