A new 10-part documentary airing on the National Geographic Channel captures the life of Hutterite commune members in a show titled “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites.” Lynn Elber, writing for the Associated Press, describes the show as a “documentary with a restrained reality series flavor.” The documentary “follows the daily life of the rural community that is both part of and carefully separated from typical modern life,” a community that isn’t “stuffy” but is rather vibrant and filled with members who “have a lively sense of humor,” Elber writes.
For the week of Memorial Day, The American Scholar re-releases a 2008 essay from David Bosco, which explores, “America’s first code regulating the conduct of its army in warfare.” Bosco delves into the issues around the code, called “Lieber’s Code” after the Prussian immigrant who wrote it during the American Civil War. He writes that at “the heart of Lieber’s view of how war should be fought was the distinction between combatants and civilians and the conviction that civilian life and property should be spared whenever possible,” a view that can be traced back to the just war doctrine developed by St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.
Ethan Zuckerman at The Wilson Quarterly comments on how people’s minds are still insular despite the growing connectivity of the Internet. Using examples from the Islamic Revolution to the Arab Spring, Zuckerman explores this paradox—that even with more information, we may not understand the mysteries of current events any better. “The Islamic Revolution was a surprise because it had taken root in mosques and homes, not palaces or barracks,” Zuckerman writes. “The calls to resist the shah weren’t broadcast on state media but transmitted via handmade leaflets and audiocassettes of speeches by Ayatollah Khomeini.”
Richard Land presides over the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, but “there’s a possibility that Land could lose his job,” reports Bob Smietana at The Tennessean. A committee for the Southern Baptist Convention is investigating Land for remarks surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting and allegations he plagiarized those remarks. The committee’s report is set to be released by Friday. Smietana interviews the Rev. Fred Luter, who may become the first African-American Southern Baptist president next month. “He called Land a smart man who made a dumb mistake with his Trayvon Martin comments. ‘I don’t think you should throw out a lifetime of doing good because of one mistake,’ he said.”
Tablet’s Marc Tracy writes that recently “Jewish Twitter received a conspicuous new member: Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.” Tracy interviews Ambassador Oren on his newly created account. When asked why he joined, Oren responds, “Twitter is another tool that enables me to communicate with other diplomats and journalists, while also allowing me to add a personal touch.”
Edward Blum at Religion Dispatches reviews the new book The Rich And The Rest Of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, co-authored by Cornel West and Tavis Smiley. Coming after West’s “Nationwide Poverty Tour,” in which he visited impoverished areas around the country, Blum writes that “Smiley and West wish to speak for and with the 99% who so often are left without care or help.” Asserting it “is a terrific book for anyone who cares about social justice in the United States,” Blum concludes: “For, as biblical prophets often did and suffered for it, West challenges us to hear words and see sights we would perhaps rather not.”
Writing at Real Clear Politics, Mark Salter, John McCain’s former chief of staff, retells the story of Jan Karski, “a hero of the Polish resistance in World War II.” On Tuesday Karski posthumously received the Medal of Freedom for his actions during World War II, when he “was ordered to brief the Polish prime minister in London on Nazi atrocities in Poland.” Salter, a former student of Karski’s at Georgetown University, writes of his former professor: “Jan Karski, a haunted man, a righteous man, it was a privilege to have known him even slightly. I’ll never meet another like him.”
At Tablet, David Samuels interviews Sam Harris, the best-selling author famed for his atheism and attacks on the Christian right, radical Islamists, and the secular left. Samuels writes: “An 18th-century Enlightenment thinker in a 21st-century world riven by 14th-century conflicts, Harris is an expert polemicist—funny, logical, fearless, and sometimes impulsive—who also possesses the rarer qualities of psychological suppleness and a willingness to admit when he’s wrong.”
At CNN, Dan Gilgoff reports on Tony Perkins’ decision to visit the home of a married same-sex couple. Perkins heads the socially conservative Family Research Council, which “has helped lead a national movement to ban same-sex marriage.” Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, invited Perkins to dinner with her and her wife, who have twin boys and a baby on the way. “While I recognize it may not change your mind, I hope that it might soften your heart,” Chrisler wrote in her invitation. “As Christians, I think we can both agree that ours is not to judge and that we must live by the golden rule.”
An opponent of gay marriage, W. James Antle, associate editor of The American Spectator, sees straight people as the problem. Writing for Real Clear Policy, Antle states, “Ironically, gay marriage is conceivable precisely because heterosexuals have made such a hash out of traditional marriage.” Because heterosexual marriages have been marred by “astonishing divorce rates” and have “rested … on the tenuous bonds of human affection,” these unions allow same-sex marriage supporters to ask: “How is it fair to frustrate the ambitions of same-sex couples to preserve an ideal heterosexuals aren’t doing a very good job of upholding in the first place?”