- Ecumenical insight into Lent
- Patriotic Correctness
- Trump: Threat or Menace?
- The Unsettlers
- Two ordinary men
- One of the reasons I blog
- Doug Coe redux
But Lent is about much more than dieting. It’s about death.
For starters, on Ash Wednesday, the priest draws a cross on your forehead with ashes, a reminder that “dust we are and to dust we shall return.” That means death.
This is a part of the Catholic faith that I don’t usually like. Not that death makes me uncomfortable — I believe in life everlasting — but because the faith has been corrupted by the idea that it is simply a get-out-of-hell card, a set of legalistic or pious requirements that one must accomplish to save one’s soul. Christianity shouldn’t just be about avoiding hell — it’s about an encounter with a person whom, we believe, is love made flesh.
(Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry) In Orthodoxy, we don’t do ashes (and our full Lent started Monday — it’s a long story), but otherwise, Gobry has nailed it on the “get-out-of-hell card” corruption of the Christian faith.
[C]onservatives have their own, nationalist version of PC, their own set of rules regulating speech, behavior and acceptable opinions. I call it “patriotic correctness.” It’s a full-throated, un-nuanced, uncompromising defense of American nationalism, history and cherry-picked ideals. Central to its thesis is the belief that nothing in America can’t be fixed by more patriotism enforced by public shaming, boycotts and policies to cut out foreign and non-American influences.
Insufficient displays of patriotism among the patriotically correct can result in exclusion from public life and ruined careers. It also restricts honest criticism of failed public policies, diverting blame for things like the war in Iraq to those Americans who didn’t support the war effort enough.
For example, in the aftermath of 9/11 and the run-up to the Iraq War, David Frum labeled dissenters as anti-American. Jonah Goldberg wrote that opponents of the war “can only get passionate about the perfidy of our own president.” Conservative gadfly Robert “Buzz” Patterson went further, calling much of the Democratic Party, Hollywood, big media, college campuses and many other organizations “traitors.” The French government’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq prompted Congress to rename French fries as “freedom fries” in congressional cafeterias, a 21st-century liberty cabbage. When the Dixie Chicks opposed the Iraq War, many stations pulled the group’s music from the air so as not to “trigger” listeners. Fans destroyed Dixie Chicks albums in grotesque public demonstrations. The radio became a safe space.
Suppose Donald Trump does not in fact turn out to be the second coming of Benedict Arnold. Suppose instead, as is much more likely, that he turns out to be a very hawkish president, one who quite possibly will make George W. Bush look like Jimmy Carter. The media and Democratic Party leaders will have staked huge amounts of credibility on a position that turns out to be laughably untrue. Six months or a year from now, they will have to flip from calling Trump an anti-American traitor and Russian plant to calling him a dangerous, fascistic ultranationalist whose relentless hawkishness is bringing us closer to World War Three. Already there are some days when they mount both attacks at the same time: the hawkish traitor whose Nazi style America First ideology leads him to lick Putin’s boots. The media wants to cast Trump as both Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler; but you can’t give the Sudetenland to yourself.
(Walter Russell Mead; H/T Wall Street Journal)
A few hours after I met the author Mark Sundeen, he went for a five mile walk alone through downtown St. Louis at night.
When he told me about it in our interview, I realized he’d inadvertently given himself a tour of St. Louis’ most argued-over development projects, beginning his journey in our wealthiest ward—the Central West End—and headed straight east along a stroad that runs through the central corridor, which has been the target of virtually all of the city’s big development dollars (and the massive tax increment finding that they often demand). Though his route took him through what many would herald as my city’s best neighborhoods, including a university campus and many of the shiny and new auto-centric development projects that our decision makers herald as markers of success, Sundeen wasn’t impressed.
“I didn’t feel totally hopeless until I got to the Arch,” he said. “Then I saw all those corporate hotels and empty buildings, and I think Guns and Roses was coming to play at one of the casinos, and there was literally no one on the street. Everything was just concrete. There were more parking garages than I’d ever seen in my life. It felt more and more soulless the further I walked.”
(Kea Wilson, What Unsettlers Can Teach Us About Building Better Cities) Sundeen is the author of The Unsettlers (Amazon Link)
His wife was younger by about ten years, but she preceded him in death by almost two, a victim of cancer, that wide-ranging pestilence whose principal characteristic is unlimited growth, also the standard we measure the health of our economy by.
(Jason Peters, Two Last Suppers And Ordinary Greatness: A Double Eulogy)
I should note that the quote I pulled is an aside in the original, which is a tribute to two of the “ordinary” men Peters has known (think Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft), whose very real lives resonate in our synthetic world which, among other things, acknowledges too few limits.
So I sez to myself “Self: Howcomefor do They always seem to have surveillance camera pictures or videos of suspects or even of actual crimes? Are we living is a freakin’ police state?”
So I decided to blog about it and then spotted, I think, the fallacy in my pre-paranoia.
Q: Where do you see those surveillance camera pictures?
A: On TV, internet, or in newspapers.
Q: Do all crimes get covered on TV, internet, or in newspapers?
A: No, I’m sure they don’t.
Q: So: Which ones are “newsworthy”?
A: “Newsworthy” has always been kind of a mystery to me, but I suppose it’s the crimes where they have pictures. Oh. Never mind.
This is one of the reasons I blog.
I commented a week or so ago on the New York Times tone-deaf obituary of Doug Coe (quiet leader of the National Prayer Breakfast), concluding “I’m looking forward to what GetReligion has to say about this obtuseness.”
Well now we know. They even nod toward my tip on the story (“Gray Lady” is the super-secret acknowledgement code).
* * * * *
“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)