What was Doug Coe really up to?

  1. What was Doug Coe really up to?
  2. How dare you not vilify those I vilify?!
  3. The ivy echo chamber
  4. Reflexively conservative Progressives
  5. Randi Weingarten is a liar


Doug Coe of National Prayer Breakfast fame obscurity died February 21.

I read the New York Times in substantial part for its excellent obituaries. Frankly, it’s a lot less ghoulish than much of what’s in newspapers today.

Coe’s Thursday obituary, however, was a powerful proof that in the New York Times newsroom, a person’s religion is always a subterfuge, as in “what’s he really up to with this religious talk?”:

Doug Coe, an evangelical leader who gained influence with powerful figures around the world as head of a prominent but secretive faith-based organization that sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event in Washington and in many state capitals, died on Tuesday at his home in Annapolis, Md. He was 88.

His proximity to so many high-ranking politicians made him an object of curiosity in Washington, while inviting speculation about his motives and ideology. He rarely spoke in public or to the news media. In private gatherings he was known to use improbable metaphors — likening Maoists and Nazis, for example, to religious zealots and extolling them as effective leaders.

Mr. Coe’s insistence that his personal counseling be done behind closed doors only contributed to his mystique

Much of Mr. Coe’s legacy was built through his work with the Fellowship Foundation, also known simply as the Fellowship or the Family. Those who identified as members or worked with Mr. Coe often adopted his official silence.

“I wish I could say more about it,” President Ronald Reagan said in 1985, “but it’s working precisely because it is private.” Speaking before the prayer breakfast in 1990, President George Bush commended Mr. Coe’s practice of “quiet diplomacy, I wouldn’t say secret diplomacy.”

On several occasions, including during Reagan’s presidency, some perceived a political undercurrent to Mr. Coe’s ostensibly religious work.

In the 1980s and ’90s he funded several trips for members of Congress to meet with African leaders who had been shunned by Western powers, among them President Mohammed Siad Barre of Somalia and President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.

Those who took part in the trips, including Mr. Coe and his associates, maintained that the visits were personal in nature. But many American officials viewed them as an inappropriate form of back-channel diplomacy.

Mr. Coe attracted scrutiny over a handful of properties owned by the Fellowship in the Washington area in which a small community of congressmen and business leaders lived and prayed together. In 2003, it was reported that six congressmen were sharing a Fellowship-owned townhouse that was registered as a church and paying below-market rents.

Their relationship with Mr. Coe’s group was explored by the journalist Jeff Sharlet in 2008 in his book “The Family,” a history of the Fellowship in which he called the group a “self-described ‘invisible’ network of followers of Christ in government, business and the military” who see themselves as “a ‘core’ of men responsible for changing the world.”

During this time he met Abraham Vereide, a Seattle Methodist preacher with right-wing political sympathies who had founded the Fellowship in Chicago in 1942 and moved his operations to Washington, where he founded the National Prayer Breakfast in 1953 …

Private. Personal. No fanfare. That means nefarious. On the other end of the spectrum, you’re a profiteer. A lover of limelight.

Damned-if-you do, damned-if-you-don’t. Because Religion.

I’m looking forward to what GetReligion has to say about this obtuseness.


Nicholas Kristof retweeted Jonathan Haidt with enthusiastic approval:

All hell broke loose. Have I mentioned lately that it’s going to be a long X years?


Jason Peters has returned to Front Porch Republic:

It’s true I lost a bet on the election (I thought that the Left’s odious piety would prevail against the Right’s odious piety), but I wasn’t really surprised, not like my fellow sojourners in the Nut House were–I mean the Nut House I was released into, not the one I came out of. I mean the loony bin of “Hire Education,” as the late great Gene Logsdon called it.

And the reason for this is that, unlike my fellow sojourners, who cannot stop yammering about diversity but who don’t actually know anyone unlike themselves, I actually rub elbows–and prefer rubbing elbows–with people who don’t inhabit the Nut House. And for the most part I do this in dive bars where diverse opinions can actually be heard without censorship. A dive bar, in case you didn’t know, isn’t like a faculty lounge, which, as it happens, is as much an echo chamber as the Fox news room. “All shuffle there,” said Yeats in “The Scholars”;

all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
All think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbour knows.

No wonder the “smart” people were taken by surprise. Notwithstanding their presumption as the lawful custodians of political and cultural life, they weren’t and aren’t smart enough to seek out any real diversity of opinion. In Hire Ed “diversity” means people who look and dress differently and who come from different places but who think the same permitted thoughts, express the same sanctioned sentiments, and vote for the same predictable candidates. In other words, “diversity” means “uniformity.”

But what I hear in these places of real diversity, these dive bars, is anything but uniformity of opinion. I hear both right- and left-wing blather, to be sure, but I also hear a range of thought wholly lacking in Hire Ed, where red and blue are the only recognizable colors and where disaffection with the Right and the Left means you’re obviously a Libertarian, there being no other categories known in the visible universe.

The full version is here. Get is while you can, as I’m not sure there’s a commitment to regular postings.


Why do progressives like Harry Potter? Ever since the election of Donald Trump, the left has been regularly referencing to JK Rowling’s popular books in order to rally the opposition to the new president.

(Bart Gingerich) Well, actually, I hadn’t noticed, but that’s not because I’m boycotting Harry Potter (I’m not).

Gingerich has an interesting theory for this purported phenomenon which he thinks reflects a conservative, even crypto-religious, impulse even among progressives:

“Local schools have become for many the only ‘little platoon’ [most Americans] have left because so many others have been lost,” he said, “There is a sense in which the reaction against DeVos is a conservative impulse, however unconscious.” The public school is loved because it’s a (the?) place of identity and community for a majority of Americans. DeVos was labeled a threat to that institution by certain cultural gatekeepers. And now DeVos is perceived as Umbridge. No matter how many protests and revolutionary ideas about society, family, and morals that Millennials may hold, they still love a certain status quo. They want an institution and liturgy of life (in the James K. A. Smith sense) which can give them norms (which, by definition, must actively exclude other standards, beliefs, and behaviors).

For the rest of the theory, you’ll need to go to the source. Or, I suspect, go to James K.A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom and Desiring the Kingdom, the first two of his “Cultural Liturgies” trilogy. I haven’t yet read them, but Gingerich draws explicitly on them in the course of taking a swipe at liberal Episcopalian “Sunday Morning LARPing.”


“Reversing this guidance tells trans kids that it’s OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

(Via GetReligion) No wonder Johnny can’t read. The top teacher can’t think.

* * * * *

“The truth is that the thing most present to the mind of man is not the economic machinery necessary to his existence; but rather that existence itself; the world which he sees when he wakes every morning and the nature of his general position in it. There is something that is nearer to him than livelihood, and that is life.” (G.K. Chesterton)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.