Tag Archive for The Los Angeles Times

Praying for the Worst

“Isn’t it against the rules of religion to pray against another person?” Elizabeth McAlister, professor of religion, professor of American studies, professor of African American studies, asks in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times. The answer: “Hardly.”

Imprecatory prayer–or praying for harm to befall another–is more common than many know, McAlister writes. She points to a Ghanaian traditional priest who is claiming credit for causing an injury to Portugal’s soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, whose absence, the priest hopes, may improve Ghana’s chances against Portugal in the World Cup this week. Closer to home, the American evangelical community for the last five years has led a chilling campaign praying for President Barack Obama’s death.

McAlister writes:

The Secret Service has taken note of the threat inherent in the prayer campaign. But without direct evidence that people were actually advocating acts of violence, the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League have concluded that the campaign to “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109.8” is a legal form of political speech.

In a way, though, that conclusion relies on secular logic. The ACLU and the ADL assume prayer to be ineffectual in causing harm. But many evangelicals believe negative forms of prayer can actually be efficacious weapons. This is why they use the term “spiritual warfare,” and why they think it is best left to the experienced “prayer warrior.”

Kansas, the KKK and Hate Without End

Though the recent shootings outside Jewish community centers in Kansas, which killed three people, may seem “at first glance like a disparaged past flaring briefly into the present,” they are in fact part of an American legacy of religious intolerance as old as the nation itself, writes Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk in The Los Angeles TimesIn fact, he writes, the KKK–and religiously motivated violence, in general–remains alive and well in this country, and Jews are the group most likely to report being the victim of hate crimes. Gottschalk walks readers through a brief history of religious intolerance in America, including the various forms the KKK has taken.

Return to Gold Standard a Big Mistake

In an OpEd for The Los Angeles Times, Richard Grossman, professor of economics, says that the Republican National Convention platform’s call for a study on reestablishing the gold standard is relatively harmless–that is, as long as the gold standard is not actually adopted. Grossman says, “being a conservative should not mean promoting policies that have not worked for 100 years.”

Save the Trees Kills the Rivers? Maybe

In an OpEd for The Los Angeles Times, Helen M. Poulos, a postdoctoral teaching fellow, Mellon Environmental Studies Program, and Jamie Workman, visiting professor of environmental studies, examine whether the extending of federal protection to so many millions of forested land inadvertently harmed our long-term water resources.

Cohan: Baseball, Bacteria and Koufax’s Perfect Game

In an OpEd for The Los Angeles Times, Frederick M. Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, discusses how his experience as a child watching perhaps the greatest “perfect game” in baseball history  – The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs in 1965 – provided lessons for the mining of old data for both baseball front offices and biologists such as himself who specialize in studying bacteria.

Craighead: U.S. Budget Is Not Like Household Budget

In an OpEd for The Los Angeles Times, Bill Craighead, assistant professor of economics, says that Washington politicians have confused the exactly role being played by the federal deficit in our current economic downturn. Craighead says the deficit is a consequence – not the cause – of the slumping economy, and in fact, to fight unemployment deficit spending is essential.

Basinger Discusses the Career of Blake Edwards

In a recent issue of The Los Angeles Times, Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, discusses the career and style of late film director Blake Edwards. Edwards was known for “The Pink Panther” films, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Victor/Victoria,” and “10,” among others.

Fowler: Seasoned Operatives Handled Campaign Cash

A recent piece in The Los Angeles Times, Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government and director of The Wesleyan Media Project, commented on where all that campaign cash from the 2010 election went. Despite the infusion of new candidates and the increased opportunities for outside groups supporting both sides, and with television ads in particular, 15 key firms dominated the campaigns and raked in over $400 million.

“Especially when it comes to television advertising … it’s dominated by a few key players and a few key firms,” Franklin-Fowler says in the article. “Key actors on both sides are going to go to the known quantities to place those advertisements.”

Stark Considers NIH Medical Research in the 1960s

In an OpEd for The Los Angeles Times, Laura Stark, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of environmental studies, explains flaws in the current research review system in the United States. On the heels of a US apology for medical research in Guatemala, the US now has on opportunity to overhaul ethics rules. Stark shows how the ethics review process enabled the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use federal prisoners in experiments during the 1960s. Attention to where our present-day ethics came from shows the flaw in our current system.

Roth on Menand’s ‘The Marketplace of Ideas’

In The Los Angeles Times, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth reviews Louis Menand’s latest book: The Market Place of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University. Roth says the slim tome examines some of the challenges and conditions faced by universities and colleges today. This includes the question: “How do you create a general education program required by all undergraduates?” There is also an examination of the faculty and the process by which they become college-level educators.”This slim volume of loosely linked essays doesn’t offer any solutions to the resistance to innovation at America’s best universities,” Roth writes, “but it does show how we have created professional academic conformity.”