Thursday, 5/22/14

    1. NPR on Race versus Religion
    2. Obama’s Foreign Policy
    3. O wad some Power
    4. Out of date?
    5. “Me too” gets cloying

1

NPR is killing its program Tell Me More in the interest of budget-balancing. I’ve never sought it out, but occasionally got a segment through the self-aggregated NPR Religion podcast.

Speaking of both of which, Rod Dreher in 2010 observed:

I’m not raising all this to complain about bias. I’m simply a regular NPR listener who would love to hear an NPR news-talk religion show, and who doesn’t understand the reasoning behind NPR’s producing “Tell Me More,” a daily program pitched at 14 percent of its overall audience, but has no daily news-talk program potentially addressing 58 percent of its current audience. Something doesn’t add up. What am I not seeing here? Is there really no audience for an NPR daily faith-and-values news-talk program, or is there just no audience for it at NPR headquarters and among the leadership of the member stations?

Note that I described the NPR Religion podcast as “self-aggregated,” not “excellent” or any other encomium. I listen to it in the spirit of:

  • What does my only radio network think is important in religious news this week?
  • Did I miss anything from other traditions?
  • How did NPR botch coverage of Christianity this week?

Dreher returns to the topic, conceding reasons others adduced in 2010 for why an NPR Religion show would fail (“NPR would be so deadly earnest about religion, in part because the risk of offending someone would be too great”) and suggests instead

a daily show about ethics and morality, driven by the news. Call in ethicists, theologians, historians, people like that, for segments about moral issues raised by current events in the news. For example, I’m looking at the online front page of The New York Times right now. Just glancing at what’s there, here’s the NPR show for today:

1. New campus orthodoxies: how far should tolerance and sensitivity go on college campuses?

2. E-cigarettes helping people quit: should e-cigs be seen as good things, because they help wean smokers off of tobacco, or wolves in sheep’s clothing, as they may draw more young people to nicotine addiction? Can there be a morally acceptable way to consume nicotine? Why or why not?

3. Christian college causes uproar by altering stance on evolution: How are conservative Christian universities dealing with science vs. religion on the evolutionary biology? Why do evangelical and fundamentalist colleges struggle with this, but Catholic colleges do not?

I’m sure there are more interesting topics across the news spectrum, but these are three I picked off the front page of the Times just now. Fold questions of race, religion, class, homosexuality, gender, and all that into this format, and ensure a balanced discussion, and you’d have a show that I bet would appeal to a huge number of NPR listeners of all races, incomes, and political leanings. I know I would listen.

Kista Tippett’s NPR “On Being” used to be called “Speaking of Faith.” That they changed the title is telling. I loved it as podcast fare on long solitary walks and bike rides, but eventually lost my taste and I think “so deadly earnest” and softball questions are much of the reason.

2

I shall here risk sounding like Politifact.

Standard Movement Conservative Talking Point: Obama’s foreign policy is feckless because he really doesn’t think America’s all that Exceptional.

Reality: Obama is carrying on in the tradition of less boastful (i.e., more surreptitious) foreign policy, not notably more or less creepy than Dubya’s policy, but harder to pin down on failures or to credit with successes.

(Thoughts provoked by Scott McConnell’s column.) Folks: foreign policy is a game, and there are other smart players out there. We’re not going to sweep the world, game, set, match.

3

I’ve tried to warn that we (i.e., the U.S.A.) are not loved throughout the world. More confirmation via Rod Dreher.

For every action, howsoever covert, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

4

Some humans grow up and live in a community where they really know and are known by their neighbors. They have a sense of coming from and belonging to a specific place and community. Not only residing there, they work there. They make a living and forge a common life, even across generations, with a relatively stable group of people, on a scale suited to mutual knowledge and accountability. This was once the norm, and theoretically people could still live in such a way.

But by and large today, we can’t. Such a life is not really an option for the vast majority of people. I suppose we can say it is out of date.

(John Cuddeback) But is our way of life sustainable? Will it survive calamity?

5

I think Federal Judges must be drawing straws to see who gets to issue his pro-SSM decision today. Brandon McGinley is unimpressed with their literary quality, as is Rod Dreher.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.