Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Sorry for the blogbreak, but I'm back to (belatedly) celebrate the 106th anniversary of the Nov. 29 birthday of C.S. "Jack" Lewis, the Oxford Don, my patron saint, author of Mere Christianity, the Narnia Chronicles and the Perelandra Trilogy. Read anything of his. Read it all.
Lewis accomplished what scant few Christian writers have managed in the intervening century, and I'll be blunt: He made art, not propaganda.
As Chuck Colson put it:
What was it that made him such a keen observer of cultural and intellectual trends? The answer may be somewhat discomfiting to modern evangelicals: One reason is precisely that Lewis was not an evangelical. He was a professor in the academy, with a specialty in medieval literature, which gave him a mental framework shaped by the whole scope of intellectual history and Christian thought. As a result, he was liberated from the narrow confines of the religious views of the day—which meant he was able to analyze and critique them.
Ouch. But you'll have to admit -- he's right.
As Frank Schaeffer explained in Addicted to Mediocrity (and I'm paraphrasing here), evangelical protestant pietism put a low value on learning and art for its own sake. Learning to play the cello or speak five languages was legitimate only if it was "for the Lord."
But as Colson points out, Lewis was not a professional religious person -- he was an English professor, smack dab in the middle of "secular" Oxford and Cambridge teaching Shakespeare and Chaucer.
As much as I cringe every time Barbra Streisand opens her mouth ... as much as I think Michael Moore is an unrepentant agitator ... let's not retreat back into Churchworld just yet. In honor of Jack Lewis, it's time to read, listen, watch. And I mean something else besides Left Behind and The Omega Code.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
... okay, you get the picture. It's hard not to be cliched on a day like today. We in America are so outrageously wealthy and privileged and free -- by global standards. And that glass insulator we call a TV set -- say what you will about Beslan or Fallujah, it spares us most of the horror.
A small glossy catalog -- one of many clogging my mailbox at this time of year -- arrived yesterday. It's a gift catalog from International Christian Concern, an organization that supports persecuted believers worldwide. Here's a few of their bargains:
- $35 per month to financially support the wives and children of men who've been jailed or martyred for their faith. Most of us pay more for cable service.
- $30 per month to help rebuild the lives of young Pakistani Christian girls who've been raped, abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. That's one dinner at a nice restaurant for me.
- $3 to print and smuggle a Bible into nations hostile to Christianity. Let's not even go into how easy it is to burn $3.
And how about a house for $650 in Indonesia to replace one torched by Islamic jihadists? How 'bout $100 to provide lifestock, a key source of food and income to an impoverished family?
Of course, my first knee-jerk reaction is, "Why isn't the media on to this? Why isn't there an outcry over the two million who've been murdered over the past two decades in Sudan?" And as I listen to Live Aid, where's Bob Geldof when you need him?
But this is my problem. What am I gonna do about it? What's worth $3 or $30 or $100 that I could do without for the sake of those who truly do without? Just what the heck are my priorities anyway?
Somethin' to chew on with your Thanksgiving turkey. And God bless us all.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Last time I remember being concerned about a nuclear detonation was way back in the '80s, during the Reagan era and the Cold War, in my AP history class. We'd speculate at length about who might drop a bomb and what would happen. I remember sitting ice-blooded through the detonation sequence of The Day After and listening an obscure Tommy Shaw song called "This Is Not a Test:"
Mr. President, our radar shows an image in the sky
We believe it's headed our direction
Now, Harvard security expert Graham Allison has published a book titled Nuclear Terrorism, in which he asserts that there is a 50-percent chance of terrorists detonating a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb within the next decade. (Hat tip: Neal Boortz.)
And just how would such a device redecorate my neighborhood? I went to NuclearTerror.org and typed in the 35203 zip code -- the major business center of my city of residence. According to the blast map it generated, we'd experience the following:
100-percent fatality rate in the business district, from the Civic Center to about Third Avenue North with virtually all structures destroyed.
Fatal radiation doses all the way from around Carraway Medical Center south to UAB, including as significant section of I-20 and Malfunction Junction. Severe structural damage and firestorms in this area.
Radiation and fires up to one mile away, including the airport, parts of I-65 and Five Points South.
This is what makes me want to bonk Janeane Garofalo on the head. She asserted on Sean Hannity's show that the Bush Administration has overblown the global terror threat. Mm hmm. Keep yapping, Janeane.
In the meanwhile, I'm gonna go listen to Duran Duran or something to make me feel better.
FOXNews.com - Students Free to Thank Anybody, Except God
On the other hand, considering how pitifully ignorant a lot of the educational establishment is about religion in general and Christianity in particular, maybe it's better that they leave off mention of God/religion instead of mucking it up.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Another person said, "She's not very feminine." My first thought was: Neither was Colin.
My second thought was: How startling is this conversation? I should probably explain it was held in Manhattan.
"I think she is extremely ladylike in her bearing and manner," I said. "Soft voice, pastel suits, heels, not a hair out of place."
"Yes," my friend said, "but she doesn't give off any sparks of sexuality."
"That's another thing I like about her", I said. We don't want a secretary of state running around giving off sparks of sexuality, do we.
Sorry, folks ... not all caricatures of black females are racist. Take this one by Pat Oliphant. As far as I can tell, he's portraying her as dumb and a sycophant -- which is not racist on its face. Insert any number of white males in the role of the parrot, and I don't think you'd hear the same bawling. There have certainly been plenty of conservative cartoonists lampooning Dems as unintelligent, sycophantic, out of touch, mean, ugly, nasty ... and just plain horny.
For that matter, criticism about Rice being a "yes person" to Bush is not inherently racist, either, and we shouldn't try to delegitimize comment and dissent on that basis.
On the other hand, this little gem by Jeff Danziger crosses the line, IMHO: Condi Rice as the IQ-deficient "Prissy" in Gone with the Wind, complete with Ebonics. Frankly, I would find it just as offensive if a cartoonist caricatured Barack Obama as an African savage with a bone through his nose.
Can we just for once keep race out of it? Yes, it's worthy of note that Rice -- who came of age in my hometown during the Bull Connor era -- has risen to such a high office.
However, the Bush White House seems to be avoiding the usual self-conscious preening about "diversity." Rice is simply qualified -- who cares if she's black or green or paisley. It's the race fetishists who will elevate Barack Obama to sainthood and rip Condi Rice a new one based on whether or not they're being true to their "roots."
So much for being judged on your character rather than your color.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
-- Columnist Wes Pruden
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Big news from Friday besides the takeback of Fallujah ... it seems that finally, justice has come home for Laci Peterson and her baby boy, Conner.
I wasn't surprised that the jury took so long to convict, and I wouldn't have been surprised if there'd been a hung jury. Besides a paucity of direct evidence, this was the crime that no one wanted to believe could happen.
Why did the media focus on Laci and not other, equally valuable young mothers who met horrible deaths? Why was Scott's apparent guilt so hard to swallow? Answer: The Scott and Laci tragedy smacks the fairytale princess stories square in the face.
Scott and Laci -- young, tanned and beautiful -- were the golden couple. The ugliness of the world isn't supposed to touch people like that. If I understand my toothpaste and deodorant ads correctly, I'm supposed to enjoy fabulous wealth, plenty of good sex, loads of entertainment and a happy and abundant life if I'm just beautiful. How could anyone ... anywhere ... destroy a creature that gorgeous.
That's the sad news, folks. It ain't that simple. If anything, maybe our culture has elevated beauty and youth to a point so that those who possess it really believe they create their own make-believe world where everything belongs to them. They become God, and if history teaches us anything, we make really lousy Gods.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
"What I object to is the intellectual cowardice of people who are objectively and to some extent emotionally pro-Fascist, but who don't care to say so and take refuge behind the formula 'I am just as anti-Fascist as anyone, but--'. The result of that so-called peace propaganda is just as dishonest and intellectually disgusting as war propaganda. Like war propaganda, it concentrates on putting forward a 'case', obscuring the opponent's point of view and avoiding awkward questions."
- George Orwell
Monday, November 08, 2004
Granted, OBL could make the angels swear, but I shall endeavor to keep things PG from here on out.
Now, back to the blog ...
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
After five hours of sleep and multiple hits of caffeine, I’m rather punchy this afternoon and unable to say much more beyond what’s already been blogged about this amazing, historic, outrageously satisfying election. I’d particularly recommend MartiniPundit’s take on this election’s winners and losers.
What keeps me from going into the full version of the Geek Girl Happy Dance is the realization that this election should not have been this close, although Bush won by a more comfortable margin that I would have predicted. G.W. ran against a generally unappealing duo with scant accomplishments and off-the-charts liberal voting records. Minus the following factors, I might have been swigging Pepto Bismol rather than shiraz last night:
The Massachusetts Factor – As someone once pointed out, no Yankee Democrat has occupied the White House since JFK. New England/Ivy League culture is about as far away as you can get from the culture of middle-class America, and it saddled Kerry with an unbearable snoot factor that 10,000 John Edwardses could not counteract, which brings me to …
The John Edwards Factor – Ugh. Did anyone see Edwards’ little appearance before the Boston faithful early this morning? Someone call Disney World … I think the John Edwards Audio Animatronic® prototype for the "Hall of Presidents" escaped. That’s the only explanation for that robotic arm-pumping thing he was doing. Anyway … their attempt to draw Southern and female voters with a smarmy Ken doll tanked utterly.
The Vietnam Factor – Kerry had two problems here: those who didn’t give a rat’s butt about Vietnam and were unimpressed with his war-hero posturing … and those who still do give a rat’s butt about Vietnam and would like to have a word or two with Mr. Kerry.
The Flip-flop Factor – Excuse me, Mr. Kerry? Have you heard about this new invention called the Internet? It’s a vast storehouse of information where people not only can read what you’ve already said about an issue, they also can compare that to what you said today and then e-mail their friends about it. It’s an amazing thing, that Internet. You might want to check it out.
The Michael Moore Factor – Does anyone really like this guy? I mean, does he have friends? Just what was Jimmy Carter thinking in that sky box at the DNC? If I were Jimmy, I’d worry that Michael Moore would start flatulating uncontrollably and I’d be asphyxiated in five seconds flat.
The Teresa Factor – ‘Nuf said.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Anyway ... had an Election Eve conversation with a coworker who is supporting Kerry. If I lived in a battleground state (Alabama is solidly Bush Country), I might have given her my best pro-GOP sell.
However, in the spirit of charity, I listened to her concerns about Bush's handling of Iraq and shared my own. It all comes down to your presuppositions about the nature of war, geopolitics, the threat of Islamofascism and the lessons of history. Based on her presuppositions, she's correct to support Kerry, and ditto for my support for Bush.
I also noticed a distinct generational and life-phase gap: She's a Boomer mother of two teenaged boys and fears a draft; I'm a Generation X-er who came of age in the Reagan era and watched us handily win the Persian Gulf War with Bush 41.
I'm not arguing relativism here. I'm just saying that there are Kerry supporters who are not unhinged, rabid agitators like Michael Moore -- they're our friends, family and colleagues who have legitimate concerns about the future of our nation.
But like I said ... if this were Ohio or Florida, I would have given it my best shot. :)
Let God and history judge us now.
Monday, November 01, 2004
The Truth Laid Bear: Bin Laden or Alaa?
So, Osama is going after the Red States next, eh?
Hey, Osama! If you thought the response was harsh when you beat up on New York City, just wait until you pick on the good ol' boys, dimwit. Why else do you think you've had it so bad with a Texan in the White House?