Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why I Haven't Been Watching As Much TV - Thomas Friedman

Have been spending more time on the internet in the late evening in recent days. Part of this related to some research I'm doing for future sermon series, but it's also due to YouTube and Google Video, which among all the cruddy home-made videos sports a number of fine programs. Over the last couple of weeks I stumbled on a number of specials involving Thomas Friedman, a Foreign Affairs reporter for the New York Times who wrote two best selling non-fiction books on globalization: "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" and "The World Is Flat" (the latter of which I've written on at various times throughout the past year). I've decided to link to these programs so that if you wish (given the writer's strike and all) you can take a gander at them.

The first program is "Addicted to Oil". Friedman uses this hour to investigate possibilities for alternative energy, the issue of global warming, and the rise of the "green industry". Even more compelling (to bad more time wasn't spent on it), Friedman visits a political lobbying organization made up of evangelical Christians, environmentalists, and people concerned about national security (not exactly three groups you'd expect to be in cahoots) who are lobbying Washington to change national policy to specifically decrease our reliance on foreign (read Middle East) oil.

Friedman too makes a point to talk very bluntly about the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism, and how we are now at war with this ideology which is financed primarily through oil revenues. No doubt this is one of the most important issues of our time. Islam, much like Judaism, contains a political aspect, meaning that it's intent is not simply spiritual, but temporal. The rise in Fundamentalist Islamic political entities should be as much a concern for us as the violence this ideology is sowing. One need only read one article regarding the possible flogging of a fine elementary school teacher for the offense of improperly naming a teddy bear to realize that the kind of intolerance involved with this line of thinking is scary, to say the least. Anyhow, here are the links:

The second program I found is another special Friedman did a couple of years ago on the effects of outsourcing on Indian culture. Interestingly enough, one of the subjects that come up is the eroding effect of the emerging economy on Hindu dominance over Indian culture. One project, in particular, really hit this home. At the end of this program, a school started by an Indian entrepreneur who made a lot of money in the information technology for children of families in India's "untouchable" caste is profiled. This is a direct hit at Hindu theology, which teaches the caste system (people being reincarnated and born into a particular social class as a product of the good or bad Karma they created in former lives) as a spiritual truth.

Couldn't disagree more with this. That's one of the reasons I follow Jesus. He challenged a social system which codified classes of people relegated to second-class status (women, children, the sick, widows, orphans, people of non-Jewish backgrounds) and deemed that contrary to God's desire for this world. The Christian church hasn't always done a good job of defining and embodying this ethic, but at least it when it's done this poorly it's challenged and convicted by its Lord for doing so. But now, we're getting into another subject... Here's the link to "The Other Side Of Outsourcing":

Finally, here's a link to an interview Friedman did with Charlie Rose about "The World Is Flat" back in 2005 when the best seller was running up the charts. Interestingly enough, he is big supporter of Bush in terms of the Iraqi War, and he explains why in the interview. I thought it was interesting. Here's the link:

In addition, in case you missed it a year ago, here's a really good read on the effects of oil dependence in real terms here at home, and abroad in a series of Chicago Tribune newspaper articles entitled "The Oil Safari" . This very, very well done, and more that worth your time.

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