Are Humans Wired to Dream?

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  Book Review: Dreaming: An Introduction to the Science of Sleep. By J. Allan Hobson. Oxford University Press, 192 pp. The Paradox of Sleep: The Story of Dreaming. By Michel Jouvet. MIT Press, 227 pp.   Not long ago I had a conversation with a Roman Catholic bishop who is an excellent administrator, a thoughtful …

Beyond Tolerance to Equal Rights

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The moment baseball executive Al Campanis said the unsayable on network television, a small crack appeared in the carefully constructed shell of tolerance that prevails in this country. What Campanis, 70, did was to tell Ted Koppel on ABC’s Nightline that few blacks hold managerial positions in baseball because "I truly believe that they may …

Chapter 1: The Meaning of Action  in  

Book Chapter

Action is the key to maintaining life and humanity. By action, Arendt means a a group process, involving many men, a process which is the beginning of something new, the answer to futility, which results in the establishment or re-establishment of the public good.

Chapter 2: Revolution — Action’s Finest Hour  in  

Book Chapter

To answer social questions is not to answer political questions. To end human poverty and privation and organize an effective flow of goods and services is a major challenge, a must, but it is not the same as establishing freedom. The revolution that establishes the opportunity and structures for freedom fulfills its reason for being.

Chapter 3: Totalitarianism: The Annihilation of Action  in  

Book Chapter

Totalitarianism (organized loneliness) threatens to ravage the world as we know it, even before a new beginning has had time to assert itself. Arendt’s faith is in the capacity of man yet to make that new beginning — to act, a capacity guaranteed by each new birth.

Chapter 4: Some Implications  in  

Book Chapter

We have action, freedom, rebellion, civil liberties flowing in our national veins. We also have racism, imperialism, vigilanteeism, and violence. The question is, which heritage will prevail in the decade ahead?

Confessions of a Glutton

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Paradise was very nice for Adam and his madam, until they filched the fruit and took the fall. They lost their place and fell from grace and you can bet we can’t forget that eating is the oldest sin of all. — Victor Buono, Heavy For as long as I can remember, I have been …

Conversation with an Atheist — Michael Harrington on Religion and Socialism

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I am a pious apostate, an atheist shocked by the faithlessness of the believers, a fellow traveler of moderate Catholicism who has been out of the church for 20 years. [Michael Harrington]. A conversation with democratic socialist Michael Harrington is like an encounter with an atheist Karl Rahner. Harrington was nurtured in pre-Vatican II Roman …

Crisis on the Mexican Border

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Last year over 200 people lost their lives as they tried to cross the border from Mexico into Arizona. They died from dehydration in the 120-degree heat of the Sonoran Desert. They died in storm drains as they tried to cross during the flash-flood season. They died in the trunks of vehicles that were abandoned …

Faith and Aging

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Book Reviews: Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development, by George E. Vaillant. Little, Brown, 384 pp., $14.95 paperback. My Time: Making tile Most of the Bonus Decades After 50, by Abigail Trafford. Basic Books, 273 pp., $14.00 paperback. Growing Old in Christ, edited by Stanley …

Food to Die For

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Book Review: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. By Marion Nestle. University of California Press, 374 pp. Food kills. Though you can drive safely while eating a hamburger, and nobody has proven that donuts are addictive, the fast food culture is as dangerous as an underage driver with a six-pack or …

Introduction  in  

Book Chapter

Hanna Arendt celebrates revolution as perhaps the grandest example of human action, and then she points out where it invariably goes wrong. By a combination of ideology and terror, elitist governments set out systematically to destroy a citizenry’s capacity for action.

Landslide Lyndon

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When I was a kid, in the early 1960s, my friends and I took a great deal of interest in presidential election campaigns. We regarded them as something like a third pennant race, overlapping as they did with the baseball season. We picked favorites, exchanged preferences, made wagers and attempted to root our candidate home …

Listening to B F. Skinner

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Amid the furor periodically aroused by B. F. Skinner’s behaviorism, scant attention has been given to the intriguing relationship between his ideas and Christianity. The shortcomings of Skinner’s theory — that human acts are the product of heredity and environment — are well known; I shall return to one of them later. At the same …

Religious Communities in the Struggle for Human Rights

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Religious support for human rights may seem commonplace today, but this was not always the case. The growing consensus about human rights among religious leaders is a new development that has yet to be widely recognized and understood. This revolution in religious thought is exemplified by religious leaders’ current support for the Universal Declaration of …

Separate and Unequal

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Book Review The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. By Jonathan Kozol. Three Rivers Press, 432 pp. Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education. By Peter Sacks. University of California Press, 388 pp. Jonathan Kozol has made a career of documenting in book after heartbreaking book …

Social Insecurity

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One of the greatest fruits of high productivity and rising incomes in a country like the U.S. is the financial ability people have to retire. This possibility was beyond the imagination of pre-World War II workers and is still far beyond the expectations of most people living in Third World countries. For most of human …

The Antimuseum

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The new National Museum of the American Indian has become one of Washington, DC’s major tourist attractions. According to its own statements, the museum is “breathtaking . . a truly Native place.” Yet not all observers are impressed. In a devastating review, Edward Rothstein of the New York Times describes the museum’s approach as gratuitous …

The Etiquette of Democracy

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In the summer of 1966, my parents moved with their five children to a large house near the corner of 35th and Macomb Streets in Cleveland Park, a neighborhood in the middle of Northwest Washington, D.C., and, in those days, a lily-white enclave. My father, trained as a lawyer, was working for the federal government, …

The Misuse of Embryos

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A 43-year-old woman rolls slowly out of bed, having dreamt the night before of her fifth-grade classroom — a room she knew well before taking disability leave. She makes her daily plea for a treatment that will allow her to get to the grocery store without tripping over her own feet. Meanwhile, a seven-year-old girl …

The Reshaping of Word

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Imperceptibly, but far more rapidly than we might imagine, we are entering a period in American history when the issues of work and organized labor may again become paramount. The historical forces now pushing those issues toward the top of the social agenda — and therefore toward serious consideration by the churches — are different …

Video Shootout

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My Minnesota hometown is the sort of place where neighbors look in on each other and leave the doors unlocked. As in Lake Woebegon, the children are all above average. In September one of those children brought a .22-caliber Colt semiautomatic to school and shot and killed two of his classmates. As with similar shootings …

What Every Progressive Christian Should Know About the Tobacco Industry

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The tobacco industry likes to portray itself as just another American business, but the facts point to precisely the opposite conclusion. Evidence uncovered in the recent tobacco litigation demonstrates that the tobacco companies deliberately deceived the public into believing that their products were safe and non-addictive while conspiring to keep the industry’s knowledge to the …

Why Men Get Anxious

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Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, by Susan Faludi. Morrow; 662pp. $27.50. My father, born at the turn of the century, was too young to see active duty in the First World War and too old to serve in the Second. But as a high school athletics teacher in a small Canadian city he …