Is there really a menace to the humanities in the breezy flourishes of a Richard Dawkins or a Stephen Hawking? White believes that the remarks of such thinkers matter immensely in an environment that glorifies science, one in which lectures by theorists like Krauss attract more than one million YouTube viewers and a TED presentation of the “connectome” speculations of Sebastian Seung is a hot ticket while attendance at symphony halls dwindles. The connection between the two, as if the lovers of the classical repertory might not significantly overlap with the viewership of lectures on neuroscience, is the kind of implicit dichotomy assumed throughout “The Science Delusion.”
One particular image from the demonstrations in Taksim Square encapsulates the dense set of relationships among secularism, the assertion of populist sovereignty, and the critique of neoliberalism. A young demonstrator drapes a banner depicting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic and charismatic embodiment of Turkish secularism, over a police water cannon. Far from a daisy clogging a rifle’s muzzle, this is not a tableau of simple pacifism. Since its establishment some ninety years ago in the wake of the battered and dismembered Ottoman Empire, the Turkish Republic has been the legatee of Atatürk’s secularist imagination, which envisioned the radical transformation of Turkey from an agrarian, “traditional” society to an urban, modern one.
40 Towns is a new project by The Revealer’s founding editor, Jeff Sharlet, English Professor at Dartmouth College, and his student writers. Here’s an excerpt from Miriam Kilimo’s “Waiting for the Kingdom,” cross-posted here.
She didn’t hear Jehovah calling during the Second World War, when her brothers and cousins went off to the army, and a woman walked up to her door and knocked. Madelyn didn’t want anything to do with her, but Witnesses were more persistent in those days, obnoxious, driven by the desire to spread the Kingdom in a time of war. “You don’t salute the flag but I got family in the war,” Madelyn shouted at the woman. The woman persisted, “Would you like to know why?” she said. The woman explained to Madelyn the Witnesses’ belief in neutrality, in not siding with any nation. She was the only Witness who had bothered to explain why. Madelyn stopped saluting the stars and stripes from that day on, following the command that you couldn’t serve two masters. You have to choose between God’s Kingdom and Satan’s system.
The first reason given for Dias’ termination was that she was pregnant and unmarried. Federal law prohibits firing a woman for being pregnant, but in these kinds of cases, Catholic schools sometimes get away with firing people for violating a prohibition on premarital sex that applies to men and women alike, pregnant or not. The pregnancy is the evidence, not the offense itself, so schools argue it isn’t pregnancy discrimination when they fire a pregnant woman. Dias’ pregnancy, however, was not the result of premarital sex. When she explained she had undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF) to her employers, she learned that was grounds for termination as well.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development almost from its inception has attracted its share of critics uncomfortable with its mission to empower low-income and politically disconnected communities. Its ambition to counter poverty by building up poor people themselves into active agents of change has been dismissed as naive, even denigrated as Marxist. In recent years some of CCHD’s critics have launched self-styled “investigations” of grantees to chase out community groups engaged in action or issuing statements deemed inimical to Catholic teaching, often because of loose alliances with other community organizations that support same sex marriage or access to abortion and contraception.