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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr, Religion and Culture

As the end of Ramadan nears (and Eid-al-Fitr approaches), NPR’s Shankar Vedantam explored the correlation between fasting and economic activity.

Kiran Nazish, in the New York Times, described ways of observing Ramadan. 

Sohail Husain, M.D., introduced Ramadan – in his words, “a great time to talk to a Muslim” – to a general American audience.

A recent op-ed on interfaith efforts included a reference to Sohail Husain.

Another op-ed, on how holidays can promote unity, mentioned Eid-al-Fitr – which my family will be celebrating with friends next week.  (We do it the easy way – enjoying the festival without the fasting!)

7:27 pm edt 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

American Revolution, American Aristocracy?

On this July 4th weekend, a Los Angeles Times opinion piece invoked Thomas Jefferson’s call to counter “aristocracy” and instead create “a foundation ... for a government truly republican.”

The article’s coauthors are Bruce H. Mann and Richard D. Brown (my father, now at work on “The Challenge of Equal Rights in the Early Republic”).

Separately, Brown and another coauthor, Doron S. Ben-Atar, were recently interviewed about their 2014 book, for the site New Books in Law.

9:02 pm edt 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Summer Learning, Literacy

The 4th of July is an occasion to foster historical and civic literacy, along with festivities among family and friends.

This holiday also offers an opportunity to highlight summer learning more broadly.  Happy Independence Day…

5:53 pm edt 

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