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Archive for October 2011

Oct/11

29

Romney as the new Dukakis

The analogy is pretty obvious. I brought it up in March, and George F. Will concludes a recently column with the idea:

Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” (although there is precious little to support Romney’s idea that in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants is a powerful magnet for such immigrants) and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis’s words) “competence,” not “ideology.” But what would President Romney competently do when not pondering ethanol subsidies that he forthrightly says should stop sometime before “forever”? Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?

In hindsight it does seem to be strange that the Repubicans don’t have a more robust field. The “incentives,” the terrible economic conditions, seem perfect.

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Oct/11

28

Hanging On In There

Stephen Budiansky appears to be channeling the idiocy of Leon Kass (the “suffering is good for you” guru who chaired George W. Bush’s grotesque tax-payer funded “bio-ethics” boondoggle) in the latter part of this attack on Steve Jobs’s attempts to combat his cancer:

With that same petty and narcissistic fixation that we can control everything in our own personal destiny—and for no other ends than our own betterment—Jobs, we read, first attempted to treat his cancer with mumbo-jumbo fruit juice diets and psychic spiritualism, then by ultrascientifically trying to become his own medical authority, spending $100,000 to have his DNA sequenced, acting altogether as if no one had ever had cancer, or at least such an important cancer, before.

Jobs’s turn to mumbo-jumbo was a depressing reminder that superstition is no respecter of IQ, but it was a choice, however foolish, that he was entitled to make, and it was a choice that he made under the sort of threat that could easily bring out the irrational in anyone. Some sympathy is called for. As for deploying his money on bespoke science in the later stages of his battle against a terminal disease, that seems perfectly reasonable. Why go quietly into that dark night?

Especially at the age of 56.

H/t: Andrew Sullivan

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Oct/11

28

Offended (2)

I first came across the French Catholic fundamentalist group, “Institut Civitas’ in a story posted here a month or so ago. Here they are again:

Paris police have arrested around 20 Christian fundamentalists who burst into a theatre and threw stink bombs to protest against a play featuring the face of Christ drizzled with fake excrement. Police made the arrests at the Theatre de la Ville, on the banks of the Seine near Notre Dame cathedral, during a performance of “On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God”, directed by Italian Romeo Castellucci. The play, which runs until October 30, is the story of an incontinent man being looked after by his son.A copy of a huge portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina hangs at the back of the stage and appears to be covered in excrement towards the end of the performance.

After days of trying to get in, the protesters on Wednesday “entered the theatre and threw stink bombs into the auditorium, shouting: ‘Enough Christianophobia!’” a police source told AFP.

France’s ministry of culture blamed the demonstration on members of the Institut Civitas, which in April protested US artist Andres Serrano’s renowned “Immersion Piss Christ” photograph in the southern papal city of Avignon. Civitas head Alain Escada said: “Our mission is to spread the word about this performance and to organise a response.”

A spectator described the protesters as “very young people who are very angry but very well dressed.” Faced with a police cordon, they throw eggs and oil at the theatre and those going in, chanting in Latin or praying on their knees.

The association of French Roman Catholic bishops on Tuesday condemned “the violence perpetrated during recent performances… France’s Roman Catholic Church is neither fundamentalist nor obscurantist (opposed to enlightenment).”

I noted before that the Civitas crowd appeared to have taken a lesson or two from the more extreme followers of another religion I could mention, and so they have in quite a few respects. The use of the ridiculous term “Christianophobia” only underlines that point.

The play itself sounds like a nightmare, but there is no, repeat, no right not to be offended.

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Oct/11

28

The Pope Presumes (But Means Well, I Think)

These comments by the Pope seem to be intended as a friendly gesture towards agnostics, and so that’s how they should be taken. Nevertheless, he presumes a little too much:

In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: “There is no God”. They suffer from his absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace”.

Well, some may be, but, speaking solely for myself, I don’t spend much time thinking about such matters. These questions are unanswerable, so why worry?

What to have for lunch, on the other hand…

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Oct/11

27

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is pregnant!

Behind the times. I did not know. A question of loyalty:

Reportedly pregnant (her husband is British historian Niall Ferguson), she says she will raise her children to be faithful to the United States above all.

“If my child were to join the military, to pay taxes, to commit to public service in any shape or form, it’s not going to be public service to Islam or Somalia, it’s going to be American,” she says. “I don’t know if you can imagine how radical that sounds. If my mother were to hear this or my father or any Somalian, they’d think this is madness. This is blasphemy. This is totally infidel.”

Oct/11

27

“Are Mormons Christians?”

Andrew Sullivan looks at the issue of whether Mormons are Christians here.

For my part, I don’t much care one way or the other, but I don’t think there can be a great deal of doubt about it. In the course of two thousand years Christianity has long since come to mean much more than those texts that some of its early leaders chose to regard as definitive. Naturally, there are many outgrowths of this now wildly varied religion that some Christians will find wanting. And they are perfectly entitled to do so. Those, however, are issues best left to the sectarians. To an outsider, at least, Mormonism is clearly a part of the greater Christian family.

Oct/11

27

“Offended”

Via the Daily Telegraph:

South Africa’s advertising watchdog has banned a television commercial depicting angels falling from heaven because they are attracted to a man’s deodorant after a complaint from a Christian.The advertisement for Axe deodorant (known as Lynx in Britain) features winged, attractive women crashing to earth in an Italian town.

The scantily-clad women are then drawn towards a seemingly unremarkable man preparing to get on a moped. They regard their quarry lasciviously while sniffing the air before one by one smashing their halos and advancing towards him.

A voice-over says: “Excite, the new fragrance from Axe. Even angels will fall”.
A viewer who complained to South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the suggestion that God’s messengers would literally fall for a mortal being because of a deodorant was incompatible with his belief as a Christian.

ASA agreed, and ordered Unilver SA, which sells Axe deodorants, to withdraw the advertisement.

“As such, the problem is not so much that angels are used in the commercial, but rather that the angels are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forego their heavenly status for mortal desires,” it said in a statement. “This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainant.”

Ah yes, the “right” not to be offended.

Pathetic.

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At The Corner, our National Review group blog, David French offers a cute thought experiment:  What if present-day Christianity were as addled with terrorist impulses as present-day Islam?

It isn’t, of course, but terrorism is not completely alien to Christianity.  Here’s a specimen from the 4th century: the Circumcellions, a/k/a Agonistici.  I particularly liked this lawyerly work-around:

Because Jesus had told Peter to put down his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:11), the Circumcellions piously avoided bladed weapons and instead opted for the use of blunt clubs . . .

 

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Oct/11

23

The West: the swords of Islam

Revolution Won, Top Libyan Official Vows a New and More Pious State:

The leader of Libya’s transitional government declared to thousands of revelers in a crowded square here on Sunday that Libya’s revolution had ended, setting the country on the path to elections, and he vowed that the new government would be based on Islamic tenets.

The sea of flag-waving citizens reacted with shouts of “God is great;” minutes earlier, they had sung the bouncy Italianate national anthem used before Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi came to power. The song has been revived to help celebrate the downfall of the dictator, who was killed on Thursday.

“We are an Islamic country,” Mr. Abdel-Jalil, the chairman of the Transitional National Council, said as the sun descended. “We take the Islamic religion as the core of our new government. The constitution will be based on our Islamic religion.” He also promised that Islamic banks would be established in the new Libya.

The emphasis on Islam in the short speech — he began by thanking God and declaring God “the greatest — appeared to be an answer of sorts to the speculation about how much of a role religion might play here.

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Oct/11

21

Why stand athwart history?

Coming soon to a bookstore near you: Reflections on the Revolution in Araby.

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