Brian Ribeiro (Tennessee): The Problem of Heaven. From Review of Biblical Literature, a review of The Gospel "According to Homer and Virgil": Cento and Canon by Karl Olav Sandnes; and a review of The Bible in/and Popular Culture: A Creative Encounter. Is the Bible a reliable moral guide? (and a response).No Christian should ever have a least favorite book of the Bible — all Scripture is God-breathed — but it is perfectly permissible, and even desirable, to have a favorite book of the Bible. An interview with John Shelby Spong, author of Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World. Why did Jesus talk in parables? What Jesus' unique (and often confusing) ministry shows us about our own stories. Fringe view: James F. McGrath on the world of Jesus mythicism. An interview with Miguel De La Torre, author of The Quest for the Historical Satan. Ronald Dworkin on Einstein’s worship, faith and physics, and religion without God. From The Pomegranate, a review of Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen by Douglas E. Cowan. Why is religion still alive? Elaine Pangels investigates. Julian Baggini sets out on a pilgrimage towards the truth, picking his way past the noisome swamp of New Atheist controversies, and skirting the forbidding crags of fundamentalism. A review of Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism by Alvin Plantinga. From New Humanist, a review of The God Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny and the Meaning of Life by Jesse Bering; some secularists believe that any communication with believers amounts to collaboration — Paul Sims isn’t so sure; and social scientist Olivier Roy has been tracking religion for three decades — Caspar Melville talks to him about his new book Holy Ignorance.

Everyone speaks text message: Is technology killing indigenous languages or saving them? Well, you may soon be able to text in N’Ko. Dennis Baron on how to save an endangered language. What if we occupied language? A movement that challenges the power structure of language could help foster the sort of equality the protests aim to achieve. Is this the future of punctuation!?: On the misuse of apostrophe's (did your eye just twitch?) and our increasingly rhetorical language. Gary Girod on the decline and fall of the French language. Resistance may be futile: Are there alternatives to Global English? Google Translate already speaks 57 languages as well as a 10-year-old — how good can it get? A review of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything by David Bellos (and more). Tea leaves and lingua francas: Why the future is not easy to predict. From Language on the Move, Ingrid Piller on the politics of subtitling. Linguistic arrow of time: Recent work in linguistics strongly suggests that almost all of the 5000-odd current human languages may have been derived from a single ancient proto-language. A review of German: Biography of a Language by Ruth Sanders. What’s the language of the future? As English takes over the world, it's splintering and changing — and soon, we may not recognize it at all. A review of Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners by Michael Erard. From Mental Floss, a look at wonderful words with no English equivalent (and more). Here are 10 common words you had no idea were onomatopoeias.

Samantha Barbas (Buffalo): How the Movies Became Speech. From, Bernie Rhie (Williams): Wittgenstein on the Face of a Work of Art; Magdalena Ostas (BU): Wordsworth, Wittgenstein, and the Reconstruction of the Everyday (and a response to both essays). How Luther went viral: Five centuries before Facebook and the Arab spring, social media helped bring about the Reformation. Of foxes, hedgehogs and the art of financial forecasting: Professional pundits are not usually paid to make correct forecasts — they are paid to sound convincing. Was Freud really a rationalist? Lie back and let Alfred Tauber convince you. It’s time to return to the smoke-filled rooms of political bosses: Political parties and party discipline have gone the way of the pterodactyl. From Regulation, James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, and Michael J. Meurer on the private and social costs of patent trolls: Do nonpracticing entities benefit society by facilitating markets for technology? Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates: Who's the bigger genius? The ingredients in the modern app phone — camera, GPS, compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, Internet connection — make it the perfect device for the next wave of software — get ready for augmented reality (AR). The introduction to the forthcoming Pity the Billionaire The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right by Thomas Frank. In praise of a second (or third) passport: Multiple identities are natural — citizenship laws should catch up. Hundreds of tiny moons may be orbiting Earth. The first chapter from Strings Attached: Untangling the Ethics of Incentives by Ruth W. Grant. From NYRB, a review of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. From Cracked, a look at the Top 8 of Everything of 2011. Linda Holmes on the 20 unhappiest people you meet in the comments sections of year-end lists.

Learning with video is as effective as the classroom — and that's a problem. By trying to teach children of varying abilities in one classroom, is American society underdeveloping some of its brightest young people? From Time, blame game: Let’s talk honestly about bad teachers; and Kayla Webley on the problem with paying teachers less. Annie Murphy Paul on Salman Khan: The new Andrew Carnegie? Most principals can’t identify or explain what constitutes good teaching, much less help teachers improve, according to a new book. Does it really take a village to raise a child? Jonathon A. Gould on an examination of the relationship between the members of the residence of a middle-school student and the student's satisfaction with school. A review of The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. Why Google is the most important learning tool ever invented: An interview with Tom Vander Ark, author of Getting Smart: How Personal Digital Learning is Changing the World. A look at how it only takes $6 million to educate the world. The Occupy movement has catalyzed rising anxiety over income inequality; we desperately need a similar reminder of the relationship between economic advantage and student performance. Everything you know about education is wrong: A groundbreaking study of New York schools by a MacArthur "genius" challenges the typical understanding of what makes a good school. From Finland, an intriguing school-reform model. Steven Brint on the four kinds of heretics attacking the gospel of education: A review essay. Should public schools raise pay to attract more of the top applicants who tend to go into higher-paying professions?

Adolph L. Reed Jr. and Merlin Chowkwanyun (Penn): Race, Class, Crisis: The Discourse of Racial Disparity and its Analytical Discontents. Joshua Zingher and M. Steen Deirdre M. Bowen (Seattle): Meeting Across the River: Why Affirmative Action Needs Race and Class Diversity. Thomas (SUNY-Binghamton): Segregation and Neighborhood Level Racial Heterogeneity: The Structure of Racially Polarized Voting. Jessica L. West (Yale): 12 Racist Men: Post-Verdict Evidence of Juror Bias. George B. Shepherd and Joanna Shepherd (Emory): Baseball’s Accidental Racism: The Draft, African-American Players, and the Law. Why we're at war with ourselves: Daniel Honan on understanding racism as an introduction to psychology. A review of Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks. The unbelievers: An article on African-American atheists. How Herman Cain killed black Republicanism: One day the GOP will get a legitimate black conservative voice — that day hasn't come. A review of Opting Out: Losing the Potential of America’s Young Black Elite by Maya A. Beasley. A review of Why Don’t American Cities Burn? by Michael B. Katz. The foreword to Critical Theories of Race and Racism in World Perspective by Angela P. Harris. Black atheism: Many mistake nonbeliever Tommie Shelby for a lapsed Christian — here's what they don't understand. Why do so few blacks study the Civil War? Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to know. Madame Noire on things black people think are racist but are not. A review of Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Are there too few African-American men willing and able to be the sort of husbands that black women want?

Rebecca Gould (Iowa): Modernity, Madness, Disenchantment: Don Quixote’s Hunger. Why do Americans hate the French? How a nation of 65 million people got on our bad side. The end of gerrymandering: Have California’s citizen commissions killed corruption in congressional redistricting? In the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators — because innovation is extraordinarily hard. An excerpt from The Greatest Grid: Manhattan’s Master Plan, 1811-2011. Without Zuccotti Park, Occupiers struggle for unity. Rich people — feeling poor, just like the rest of us! Some real issues for 2012: The presidential campaign shouldn't eclipse important protest movements already under way. Brett Forrest on the big Russian life of Anna Chapman, ex-spy. How crossword puzzles mess with your mind: The agony and the ecstasy of solving a crossword puzzle can reflect a surprising amount about the subconscious mind. Romney and Santorum actually tied the Iowa caucus, experts say. A review of The Origin of AIDS by Jacques Pepin. An interview with Glenn Greenwald, author of With Liberty and Justice for Some. Why we should be skeptical about the current mania for a third party that appeals to independents and libertarians: Mark Schmitt reviews The Declaration of Independents by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch. An excerpt from Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters by Gordon M. Shepherd. As the US enters primary season ahead of the 2012 elections, Abby Ohlheiser assesses the chances of the “God and Guns” Republicans hoping to challenge Obama in November. Welcome to Social Dimension, a blog devoted to the math behind understanding society and civilization.

Samuel Alexander (Melbourne): Peak Oil and the Twilight of Growth. From Conversations with History, an interview with Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. Brad Plumer on how most of the world’s oil comes from aging fields and getting harder to come by. The peak oil brigade is leading us into bad policymaking on energy. A review of Spills and Spin: The Inside Story of BP by Tom Bergin and A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea: The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher by Joel Achenbach. An essay on global oil risks in the early 21st century. The massacre everyone ignored: Up to 70 striking oil workers killed in Kazakhstan by Nursultan Nazarbaev, a US-supported dictator. How North Dakota became Saudi Arabia: Harold Hamm, discoverer of the Bakken fields of the northern Great Plains, on America's oil future and why OPEC's days are numbered. The ethical and economic issues aside, what do we know about the safety and environmental impact of oil pipelines today? Friend or enemy: William D. Nordhaus reviews The End of Energy: The Unmaking of America’s Environment, Security, and Independence by Michael J. Graetz. Michael Levi on what the Nobel Prize tells us about oil. Seeking sparks of hope in books on energy: Is there a happy medium between the apocalyptic and the utopian? Don’t count oil out: Alternative energies won’t replace oil, gas, and coal anytime soon. An article on oil and Arabic-speakers in Iran’s troubled southwest. Chris Nelder on why energy journalism is so bad. A look at how the oil map of the world is shifting to the West. Charles Homans on a short history of energy independence: A century and a half of an idea whose time has never come. Oil and democracy: Discovering natural resources has no effect on the political system — if the country is already a democracy.

Alla Myzelev (Guelph): Canadian Architecture and Nationalism: From Vernacular to Deco. From Just Labor, a special section on New Voices in Labour Studies, including Julia R. Woodhall and Alicja Muszynski (Waterloo): Fordism at Work in Canadian Coffee Shops. A mine in the Northwest Territories provided much of the uranium used during the Manhattan Project — unbeknownst to the indigenous people who worked there. David Johnston, Canada’s twenty-eighth Governor General, possesses impeccable credentials and old-fashioned charm — plus he is the government’s secret weapon in restoring the power of the monarchy. A review of Transnational Canadas: Anglo-Canadian Literature and Globalization by Kit Dobson. The Michael Ignatieff Experiment: The celebrity intellectual decamped from Harvard to join Canada’s political fray in what was supposed to be a sure rise to the top — what went wrong? Modest country, ambitious leader: There must always be working men, men to work with their hands, to be poor, to be industrious, to be unfortunate, to suffer; it is the will of God, and the destiny of the race. Do alternative weeklies have a future? Inside the recent upheaval at a Montreal media institution. An interview with with Richard Gwyn, author of Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times. Five years ago, Justin Ferbey helped his Yukon community become one of Canada’s few self-governing First Nations — that was the easy part. Why pioneers breed like rabbits: Families that colonized the Canadian frontier contributed more genetic material to the modern population than folks who stayed home. Montreal Is Burning: Arcade Fire’s meteoric rise changed a city and redefined a subculture. An article on Toronto as the worst sports city in the world. Pipeline Offence: How TransCanada Corporation changed the game for football fans in Nebraska. Blame Canada: Eric Andrew-Gee on the right-wing menace to our north.

A new issue of Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics is out. Paul Grimstad (Yale): On Going On: Rules, Inferences and Literary Conditions. James Warner on Dilbert's presidential bid: Is technocracy dressed up as libertarianism the natural political home of the engineer? Stephane Hessel and the handbook of the revolution: The 94-year-old Frenchman's 13-page essay, Time for Outrage, helped to inspire protests movements in Europe and the U.S. From The Current Moment, an interview with Jeff Frieden, co-author of Lost Decades: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery; and an interview with Wolfgang Streeck, director of the Max Planck Institue for the Study of Societies. Sasha Issenberg on the 12 kinds of undecided voters:
 Liars, haters, mavens, know-nothings, bandwagon riders, and other kinds of voters who just can’t make up their minds.
 A review of Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in the Seventies by James Wolcott. What not to think about: There is an opportunity cost to bad ideas — Big Think's editors recommend the stories that are not worth following. From New York, a special issue on Reasons to Love New York 2011. Eighteen years ago, three teenagers in Arkansas were falsely accused of the murders of three young boys; suddenly released this summer, the West Memphis Three are now free to pick up their lives — if they can even find them. Is incest wrong? Tauriq Moosa wonders. Nancy Leys Stepan on her book Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever? An interview with William Ian Miller, author of Losing It: In which an Aging Professor laments his shrinking Brain.

Ahmed Taha (Wake Forest): Are College Athletes Economically Exploited? Fixing college sports: Why paying student athletes won't work. 2011 is the year Dave Zirin learned to hate college football: Unless we boycott sham amateurism and indentured servitude masquerading as sport, we will never reclaim sports. Questions about why college football programs breed scandal and off the field violence might want to look at high school football for clues. Would colleges be better off without football? A look at how contracts for top college football coaches grow complicated. Would Jesus love football? Rodney Clapp wonders. In the name of the Father: Tod Gitlin on how college sports came to be above the law. The Green Bay Packers have the best owners in football: The fans are shareholders, the CEO is a union leader and ex-player, the city is a dot on the map — the bizarre anomaly of the franchise that rules the NFL. Football is better than soccer: An Englishman abandons the beautiful game for the NFL. James M. Dorsey (NTU): Soccer: A Middle East and North African Battlefield. From The Point, Ben Jeffery on soccer and schizophrenia. From Swans, Gregory Elich on class struggle on the baseball diamond: A review essay. Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier on the economics of Moneyball: Do the principles really work anymore? Elite athletes increasingly depend on technology to help them win — but what constitutes an unfair advantage, and who should decide? Timothy Liam Epstein on how sports' unions help maintain integrity of competition. A look at what the public can learn from sports riots. Fighting Words: Christine Ammer on military terms that apply to sports. With a Web presence, strong writers and now a print quarterly, Grantland opens the conversation on a new way of thinking about sportswriting and the games we play.