Television Show Review: The Good Place: Season 1

The Good Place - Season 1

The Good Place: Season 1 created by Michael Schur (Fremulon, 3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television) Starring Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, and Manny Jacinto. Simmering Craters Since Lost, network television has left a simmering crater of paint-by-numbers drivel. I speak hyperbolically, but solid programming is few and far between on the networks. Even of the network shows we watch in my household, most have clear deficiencies stomached for the greater good of television consumption. Sadly, the best and most promising network shows are not long for this world. The further away from the surreal mysteries of Lost, the more promising series die after fledgling glimpses of promise. In fact, after too many burns, I’ve… Read More →

Book Review: Moral Man & Immoral Society

Moral Man and Immoral Society by Reinhold Niebuhr

Moral Man & Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics by Reinhold Niebuhr (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001; originally published in 1932. 288 pp) Reinhold Niebuhr was a theologian, ethicist, and professor at Union Theological Seminary. Niebuhr attended Elmhurst College, Eden Theological Seminary, and Yale Divinity School. His views have influence countless leaders including Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, John McCain, and Madeleine Albright. In 1964, Niebuhr earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in 1971. Looking Back Review the 20th Century and you’ll find plenty to criticize. World wars. Genocide. Massive technological advances. For every slice of progress, it seems there’s an equal and opposite setback. Two steps forward. Two steps backward. With the benefit of hindsight,… Read More →

Book Review: The Accidental Executive

The Accidental Executive by Al Erisman

The Accidental Executive: Lessons on Business, Faith, and Calling from the Life of Joseph by Albert M. Erisman (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2015. 202 pp) Albert M. Erisman is executive in residence and past director for the Center for Integrity in Business in the School of Business, Government, and Economics at Seattle Pacific University. Since 2011, he has been co-teaching classes on workplace theology and ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is cofounder and executive editors of Ethix magazine, coauthor of several books in technology and mathematics, and co-chair of the Theology of Work Project. He was Director of Technology at the Boeing Company when he retired in 2001 after a career of thirty-two years. My Reading Policy As a policy,… Read More →

Television Show Review: Homeland: Season 3

Homeland Season 3

Homeland: Season 3 developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Broadcasting) Starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Morgan Saylor, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, F. Murray Abraham, and Tracy Letts. *Spoiler alert for previous seasons in effect* Utilitarianism Noted in the ethics world, utilitarianism is a system devoted to the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. It means if 99 people earn 5 “utils”—the metric for happiness created by the system’s founder, Jeremy Bentham—and 3 people receive -3 utils, then the action is valid and worth pursuing. The system is pretty popular. It seeps into everyday language—like when someone rationalizes an action because it limits harm, or the consequences… Read More →

Book Review: Lost Everything

Lost Everything by Brian Francis Slattery (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2012. 304 pp) Brian Francis Slattery was born and raised in upstate New York. He is an editor for the U.S. Institute of Peace and the New Haven Review. He is the author of Spaceman Blues and Liberation, and is also a musician. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut. No One Should Be Mother Teresa I vaguely remember a provocative paper assigned in ethics during my undergraduate years. Since I forget specifics, it’s probably not the best analogy, but I find it particularly fits with Brian Francis Slattery’s Lost Everything. The author of this paper argued that nobody should aim to act like Mother Teresa. First off, the baseline… Read More →

Film Review: Bernie

Bernie written and directed by Richard Linklater (Castle Rock Entertainment, Collins House Productions, Deep Freeze Productions, PG-13, 104 min) Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey. Justice and Utility If an action resulted in the happiness of an entire community, you would support it, right? Stated as an ethical position, this idea is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism suggests the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. If someone commits a crime, they have negatively affected others. Thus, the greatest good is to punish them for the benefit of others. But what if everyone likes the person who did the wrong? Should justice be distributed by order of how much we like the defendant? Most often, people don’t need… Read More →