Wednesday
Nov052014

R: It's Morning in America!

Where are we going? How do we get there? These are basic, vague, and terrifyingly important questions that everyone asks, and they are only more pressing when applied to the host of people bound together in a state.

With control of the Senate on the line, Tuesday's elections will mark yet another pivotal chapter in the history of American politics. Is a Republican victory a move in the right direction? Is conservatism reemerging from exile? But more importantly, are American culture, politics, and values going to experience a positive reversal—in the near future or in the long term—as a result of these elections?

It is undeniable that where we stand as Americans—and what we stand for—affects people the world over. It is time to reexamine where we are going, how we are getting there, and whether or not the path we are choosing through our leadership point toward an era where fewer tears are shed and lighter burdens are carried. It is time that we discuss frankly what prosperity and flourishing truly mean. Are we once again turning toward the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., where men "talk about God's power and human power"? Indeed, where are we going?

Join us this WednesdayNovember 5th at 7:30 pm in the Calhoun Parlor as we discuss nothing less than the future of our nation. All are welcome!

Wednesday
Oct292014

R: Museums Are No Place for Art

The art museum has become a standard feature of cities worldwide. Never before have so many people been able to experience, in person, so many beautiful works of art, coming from all periods in history and all populated corners of the globe.

And yet, there seems to be something painfully lacking in museums. They seem, in many ways, artificial. Many, if not most, of the works on display at museums were not at all intended for them—they were painted for royal palaces, sculpted for city squares, and carved for sacred rituals. They fit neatly into their cultures of origin—single puzzle pieces in the complex assortments of customs, beliefs, and physical artifacts that have defined societies of the past. Museums—where dozens of unrelated works might be displayed side-by-side in a single room—largely fail to convey these origins.

There is another danger: as more and more art is relegated to museums, it disappears from the public sphere. Elaborate façades, grand temples, ornate fountains—even flower gardens—are endangered in many places, or have already disappeared. After all, if art belongs in museums, then why should cities be anything but purely functional?

But perhaps we've been uncharitable to museums. Many museums give new life to art, preserving antique artifacts that might otherwise remain buried and neglected, giving an audience to paintings that might otherwise be held in exclusive private collections, and providing new insights into works that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Join us this WednesdayOctober 29th at 7:30 pm in the Calhoun Parlor as we discuss the proper home (and role) of art in society. All are welcome!

Wednesday
Oct152014

R: Enact Reparations for Slavery

The tide is high for a renewed debate over equality and liberty in America. The conflicting concerns of both are borne out in our history, and have left us with myriad issues to choose from. But at the center of this is the continued march toward finally being able to proclaim as one, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last!"

The legacy of slavery in America is one that lives on beyond the history textbooks, as new focuses on "white privilege" and micro-aggression sweep through the media and raise questions as to how much discrimination really does exist below the surface of civil society. At the height of this are the plights of minority communities in income, employment, incarceration rates, and more. Are these problems at least partially attributable to implicit forms of discrimination? Is this issue, so often couched in terms of equality, really one of liberation? If so, the degree of societal recompense must be established and paid. Freedom must be given. Yet, the debate will rage on as to who has responsibility to whom, if not themselves, and who determines how much is owed by whom.

The questions certainly rage around this sensitive issue, and so we invite all to join us this Thursday, October 16th at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room as we ponder this bold policy solution currently making headlines in the American media. Again, all are welcome!

Tuesday
Oct072014

R: All Struggle Is Progress

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," or so the old adage goes. What drives human history, and what brought our species from being mere hunter-gatherers to becoming comfortable urban dwellers across the world?

From Norse mythology to Hegel to John Steinbeck, there has always been a certain wonder found in the confrontation of Man with his brother, with nature, and with practically everything else. Despite lip service to peace and order, war springs up in every century, and the clash of civilizations seeps down to the individual. Our desires and dreams grow into causes, our causes develop resistance, and soon enough the peace we yearn for so dearly is thwarted by the very act of seeking its fruition. We see our tranquility as Moses did the Promised Land: there before us, but unattainable. We become children kicking at a wall, hoping to topple it, but left merely with stubbed toes and eyes looking up to Heaven.

But perhaps to struggle and to fight really is our culmination and not our undoing. It is in encounter and opposition that we learn of foreign methods and wisdom. It is in having an "other" that allows us to define ourselves, and when we are ready, to advance that conception with knowledge we have gained. Perhaps all great things must be taken, and perhaps life devolves into a humdrum meaninglessness without the great struggle for survival and control of our own fate or success. But if this is the case, where is the limit? Competition in the market? Boxing? War?

Leftists, rightists, pacifists, conservatives and all others should join us this ThursdayOctober 9th at 7:30 pm in the Calhoun Parlor to join the fray. All are welcome!

Tuesday
Sep302014

R: Bulldoze the Suburbs

What makes for strong communities? How important is human geography to how we live our lives?

One of the greatest yet least acknowledged phenomena of modern American history has been the invention of the suburb. The suburbs represent the ultimate division of family life from professional and business life, made possible by the mighty bonds of our interstates and automobiles. One can go from his kitchen, to his car, to his workplace, and back to his garage without ever taking a step outside. The morning stroll to the mailbox is considered an adventure.

The suburbs are the great enablers of this reclusiveness, and their victims are the once tight-knit communities of sandlots, block parties, and old ladies with soup at your door whenever you're sick. Yet suburbs can also represent something grander: the triumph of the American dream. Perhaps the community weakens, but is not every house now truly its owner's castle? In it he can raise a family without interruption, cultivate hobbies and garden in the backyard, and use it as capital to be disposed of when he sees fit. Perhaps the suburbs can be the key to our liberation. And so we must ponder several oft-neglected questions: Now that the majority of Americans live in the suburban outskirts of urban America, what exactly are we giving up for this kind of life? How dangerous or advantageous is it? What—if anything—is to be done?

Join us this Wednesday, October 1st at 7:30 pm in the Calhoun Parlor to ponder the physical dimension of Man's communal life. All are welcome!