A review of A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith by John Rawls. Cornel West, Jurgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Judith Butler discuss "Rethinking Secularism: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere" (and more). Jay Michaelson on how religion is actually spirituality. From PUP, the first chapter from Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things by Ann Taves. A review of The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures by Nicholas Wade (and more on the evolution of the God gene). A review of Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith by Shane Hipps. Sharon Begley on why religion may not be hard-wired. The ethics of being a theologian: The religion researcher is related to the theologian as the biologist is related to the frog in her lab. Mathew Iredale meets Bernard d’Espagnat, the winner of the £1million Templeton Prize. A review of Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Bentley Hart. Atheists, it's time to stand up to Jesus: Civility has its uses, but atheists should not be afraid to mock faith to undermine religious power. Having lost the power of the gun in the West, apologists of religion have a new weapon: being offended. Is there an atheist schism, are there really two camps of non-believers? How to be agnostic: Mark Vernon argues against atheism and belief. Here's the complete text of Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary by Kenneth W. Daniels.

From The Chronicle, a special report on journalism and academia, including thinkers on how the decline of news media will affect higher education; and a look at how philosophy and journalism, two well-known approaches to truth seeking, make strange companions — and invaluable ones. Journalists need to stop being so lazy and unimaginative — here are 22 ideas for changing the way news is produced. A report by Leonard Downie Jr., formerly of The Washington Post, sets forth a number of ways to pay for journalism — one of them is government money. Columbia, the leading journalism school in the country, has placed its imprimatur on the idea of government funding of the news. From Vanity Fair, can newfangled web ads save journalism? Matt Pressman investigates. Will "anarchist" American news website Spot.us save journalism? From The Monthly, here's a short history of the media future. The "time bomb" effect of biased news: A study shows that over time even the most sophisticated readers can be manipulated. The media sucks: Sometimes, there aren't two sides to a debate. Polarized news?: An article on the media's moderate bias. Thomas Edsall on why journalism should own its liberalism — and then manage it, challenge it, and account for it. Taking on the "Democrat-Media Complex": An interview with conservative Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart. The smart move: Give Frank Rich a show on Fox News. Summers as an intern at the Houston Chronicle helped turn Molly Ivins from a River Oaks girl into the most distinctive liberal voice in Texas journalism (and more and more and more). From TAP, a look at how Kathleen Parker became America's most-read woman columnist; and twilight of the op-ed columnist: What is the fate of the syndicated newspaper columnist in a world where online punditry is plentiful?

From TED, Robert Wright: on the evolution of compassion; Dayananda Saraswati on the profound journey of compassion; Faisal Abdul Rauf on finding your compassion; James Forbes on compassion at the dinner table; Jackie Tabick on the balancing act of compassion; and Robert Thurman on expanding your circle of compassion. From On the Human, Dan Batson on empathic concern and altruism in humans. Can a vision of a more empathic world change the way we behave toward each other? Edward Dolnick reviews The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society by Frans de Waal (and more and more and more and more and more and more). New research finds those who feel a strong connection to the natural world have a more caring attitude toward others. The idea that evolution explains selfishness well and altruism poorly is starting to stink — can we please bury it now? Noah Lederman on lessons in altruism from geneticists and baboons. A review of The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci. A review of On Kindness by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor (and more). Jonathan Zittrain on how the Internet is made up of millions of disinterested acts of kindness, curiosity and trust. A review of Why We Cooperate by Michael Tomasello. The goodness of crowds: When large numbers of people give a little, they accomplish a lot. It pays to be nice: A look at how emotions shape our economic decisions. Research suggests a genetic tendency to depression is much less likely to be realized in a culture centered on collectivistic rather than individualistic values.

From LRB, a review of books on Roland Barthes. The "Should We Stay or Should We Go?" Matrix: Where our top opinion-makers stand on the Afghanistan question. Was Y2K a waste? Farhad Manjoo investigates. How viable is modelling as a job and how realistic is the prospect of earning a living out of it? A review of Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism by Alison Piepmeier. From the latest issue of Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements, Jenny Gunnarsson Payne (Stockholm): Feminist Media as Alternative Media? A Literature Review; and Piotr Konieczyny (Pitt): Wikipedia: Community or Social Movement? From Forbes, here's a special report on the world's most powerful people. Anachronistic arrogance: How scorning our intellectual mothers and fathers makes us real dumb real fast. Jesse Larner on the health care speech Obama should give but won't. Want real reform? Let's start with Congress. Richard Ross spent five years traveling over three continents, photographing the interiors of bomb shelters for Waiting for the End of the World. Mount Rushmore carvings will be first test of plan to guard historic sites from ravages of weather and pollution by creating accurate 3D models. A whistleblower says estimated oil reserves figures were distorted by US pressure. High in protein, low in fat, delicious, ubiquitous: why not eat bugs? Quiet, please: Libraries are being transformed into rowdy social spaces, with disastrous consequences. Start using these words: Impress friends, woo the opposite sex, and increase self-esteem with these wholly unnecessary vocabulary enhancements!

From the International Journal of Zizek Studies, Sheila Kunkle (Vermont): Embracing the Paradox: Zizek’s Illogical Logic; Roque Farran (Conicet-UNC): The Concept of Citizenship in Postmarxist Theory: The Return of the Political and the Issue of Madness; Federico Bellini (Siena): Beckett’s Ticklish Characters: Reading Beckett through Zizek; Luke John Howie (Monash): Representing Terrorism: Reanimating Post-9/11 New York City; Kareen Ror Malone (UWG): Female Rivals: Feminism, Lacan &† Zizek try to think of something new to say; and Slavoj Zizek on Notes Towards a Definition of Communist Culture. From First Things, Edward T. Oakes, S.J. on Slavoj Zizek, religion and violence; and a review of The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? by Slavoj Zizek and John Milbank (and more). A review of Violence by Slavoj Zizek. Hollywood Today: Slavoj Zizek on a report from an ideological frontline. From Democracy Now, an interview with Slavoj Zizek on a bunch of stuff (and more from New Statesman on why he rejects mainstream political theory, why he supports Barack Obama, and why we need Marx more than ever). Time to revive communism: A review of†First As Tragedy, Then As Farce by Slavoj Zizek (and more and more). Post-Wall: Slavoj Zizek on neo-anti-Communism. From zizekspeaks at Twitter, "When Lacan writes, Do not sacrifice your desire!, he exhorts you to dare". A review of Zizek: A (Very) Critical Introduction by Marcus Pound. So you'd like to know what the hell is Zizek talking about (and a clip from "Zizek!")

John Hartley (QUT): Lament for a Lost Running Order? Obsolescence and Academic Journals (and a reply). From The Chronicle, here's a manifesto for scholarly publishing. Publishing genius: A graduate student in Baltimore proves that a small press can hit the big time. There should be two more scholarly periodicals in medicine: "Duh!", for findings that never seemed to be in doubt in the first place, and "Huh?", for those whose usefulness remains obscure. Is there any point to "frivolous" academic research? From THES, academic styles of referencing are confusing and outdated, so why not simplify the whole thing?; and knowledge transfer is often perceived as a concept that is limited to science, but Hannah Fearn discovers it is equally relevant for the arts and humanities. The first chapter from Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humanities. From IHE, can scholarship in the humanities be done outside the ivory tower? Scott McLemee goes to Iowa to find out. How is the university, specifically the humanities and social sciences, with its rampant anti-Americanism, anti-intellectualism, muddle-brained identity politics, hostility to the unvarnished truth and all the rest to be re-conquered and restored to sanity? (and part 2) AcaWiki, a "Wikipedia for academic research", allows scholars, students, and bloggers to easily post summaries, and discuss academic papers online. PH.Dotcom: What if professors could lecture 24-7? Blog culture invades academia. From Harvard, Louis Menand on the Ph.D. problem: On the professionalization of faculty life, doctoral training, and the academy’s self-renewal. A review of Socrates in the Boardroom: Why Research Universities Should Be Led by Top Scholars by Amanda Goodall (and the first chapter and a video).

From the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, a special issue on China’s Politics under Hu Jintao. From The Economist, a special report on China and America. From the Asian Review of Books, a review of Military Culture in Imperial China by Nicola di Cosmo; and a review of Friends and Enemies: The Past, Present and Future of the Communist Party of China by Kerry Brown. John Lee on why China's 60th birthday is nothing to celebrate. A review of Will the Boat Sink the Water? The Life of Chinese Peasants by Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao. From The Atlantic Monthly, in Yunnan province, two Americans struggle to save an ancient town from kitsch; and James Fallows thought China was killing him, but that was unfair. Tom Scocca reviews The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China by Hannah Pakula and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order by Martin Jacques. A nation attacked by terrorists or an oppressed minority?: However one interprets the recent violence in Xinjiang, it was far from unexpected. China's race problem: Ethnocentrism might foil its quest to become the next superpower. The Hermit Kingdom: Is North Korea an unchanging, irrational Stalinist dictatorship? Four days in North Korea: In Pyongyang, the lights go out at 9 p.m. Here are some surprising findings in North and South Korea. Simon Schama says comedy rubs shoulders with catastrophe at the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two Koreas. The world of underground tattooing: South Koreans are starting to embrace tattoos, but they have to go to underground parlors to get them.

Yannis Kakridis (Bern): The Religious Roots of Linguistic Nationalism. From LRB, a review of James Lees-Milne: The Life by Michael Bloch. They didn’t roar like the ’20s, they weren’t about “me” like the ’70s — but let’s jump the gun and start figuring out what to call the ’00s. Who needs the grid? A new fuel-cell technology promises to revolutionize access to cheap, clean energy. Like the cool kids in school, fashion bloggers have become a kind of elite band; how far should luxury houses and consumers of high-end fashion embrace, or not embrace, them? Not just supermodels, they're super people: When she said no to airbrushing, Sarah Murdoch didn't just raise the bar for supermodels, she raised it for humanity. A review of Bite the Hand That Feeds You: Essays and Provocations by Henry Fairlie. A review of Picturing the Uncertain World: How to Understand, Communicate, and Control Uncertainty through Graphical Display by Howard Wainer. A look at 20 of the most shameless cultural franchises. Brother against brother: Research proves familiarity breeds contempt. Suburban Ghetto: Segregation, not immigration, is to blame for the growth of Hispanic gangs. How the talk became big business: Authors, scientists, economists are packing venues as more and more people turn to a lecture for a good night out. A review of The Mantra of Efficiency: From Waterwheel to Social Control by Jennifer Karns Alexander. The report to end all reports: The state of Texas requires a report on all the reports produced by its own agencies — all 1,600 of them. If tax avoidance is as old as tax itself, why are tax havens a modern phenomenon?

From Expositions, a review of Colin McGinn's Shakespeare’s Philosophy: Discovering the Meaning Behind the Plays and A.D. Nuttall's Shakespeare the Thinker. A review of The Tainted Muse: Prejudice and Presumption in Shakespeare and His Time by Robert Brustein. The Merchant of Prejudice: An article on Shakespeare as a teachable moment. From THES, an essay on Shakespeare and porn: a topic for theoretical, not practical, analysis. A review of Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds: National and Transnational Identities in the Elizabethan Age by Carole Levin and John Watkins. From TLS, were the Admiral's Men more original and theatrically brilliant than Shakespeare's company? A painting that hung for centuries in an Irish manor house may be the most authentic portrait of Shakespeare to date — but is it really him? A review of The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome by Joseph Pearce. The Bard of Rome: Kathleen Doherty Fenty on Shakespeare and the Catholic question. Skeptic's take on the life and argued works of Shakespeare: The anti-Stratfordian skeptics are back, and this time they have a Supreme Court justice on their side. Researchers claim a computer program proves Shakespeare didn't work alone. Though This Be Madness, There Is Method In’t: After sixteen years of work, Surjit Hans’ mission of translating all of Shakespeare into Punjabi is nigh an end. Illustrator Gareth Hinds transforms Shakespeare classics into graphic novels.

From The Browser, an interview with Robert Barro on the lessons of the Great Depression (and more). When an economy is just coming out of recession, its weaknesses are always more obvious than its potential strengths. If the economy's stagnant, why are stocks up?: The answer is disturbing. The Dow is too high: What’s holding up the stock market? (It’s not the economy.) What Jane Jacobs can teach us about the economy: Late urban champion's notions about decline and imports newly resonant during this recession. US savings bind: Save money to rescue the economy, spend money to rescue the economy. Will the Great Recession finally end our misguided obsession with gross domestic product? (and more) A look at ten odd economic indicators: Hot waitresses, men's underwear, blacked-out football games, and more. Much ado about multipliers: Why do economists disagree so much on whether fiscal stimulus works? It is worth stepping back and asking: What would the world economy look like today if policymakers had acceded to the populist demand of no support to the bankers? From Vanity Fair, as friends, colleagues, and Larry Summers himself try to explain his reputation for arrogance, bullying, and insensitivity, William Cohan learns about his more private battles, and why many believe he’s still the M.V.P. in any financial crisis. At the intersection of high finance and news, the New York Times’ past and its future, and with a new best-selling book about the Wall Street crisis, Andrew Ross Sorkin has thrived by understanding the psyches of big players under attack.