Once in Royal David’s City

That’s the name of the Christmas carol that opens the Nine Lesson and Carols service at King’s College, Cambridge, each Christmas Eve. Some archeologists have suggested that Kings David and Solomon as described in the Bible are more legend than fact. However, a group of bullae (clay seals used with ancient government documents) dating from the 10th century BC was recently found in Israel. The existence of such bullae suggests that a very organized and centralized government existed in Israel in that era, something which tends to confirm the Biblical record.

Listening and Freedom of Speech

Dominic Burbidge has an insightful essay What It Means to Listen: Free Speech from the Perspective of the Abrahamic Religions posted at the The Witherspoon Institute’s website. He makes the point that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have a different view of reality from Secularism.

Free speech arguments in Western Europe or North America often demand that persons subject their beliefs to rational discourse and debate. This is supported in the traditions of Abrahamic religions but not through the separation of believer from belief that is characteristic of liberal individualism. For someone of an Abrahamic faith, beliefs are subject to rational evaluation as coherent wholes, which are therefore refuted by an alternative system of thought that is able to display greater unity, coherence, and breadth of application.


The liberal argument for free speech envisages a free exchange of ideas that exposes the irrationality in other systems of thought. What the person of Abrahamic faith resists is not this but the way in which the method of exposing irrationality solidifies a position of moral relativism through which traditions of thought are rejected en masse as forms of indoctrination, dismissing in turn people’s capacity to reason from within them.

From the point of view of a Christian, I’ll note that the Bible describes a God who seeks a personal relationship with each of us. He speaks to us about how we should live while in that relationship. He speaks of how we should relate to the rest of his creation, but in doing so he tells us how to exercise self-control rather than how to control others.

Thus, I believe that people should be generally free to express their ideas and take their own choices, even those I find wrongheaded, so long as they aren’t harmful to others. There is a strain of Progressivism/Modern Liberalism with intellectual roots in soil such as the Prohibition Movement. In many cases the Prohibitionist urge to control the behavior of others (for the others own good) came from what I see as a confused view of Christianity as viewed through the lens of Modern Liberalism. (There’s a long essay lurking in that thought.) That misunderstanding is a source of some of the intellectual tension between Secularists and Believers.

In any event, Burbidge’s essay is thought provoking. Read the whole thing.