•February 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

Testing.  And testing again.


Moving Announcement

•October 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

To all our regular readers:

The name Evangelical Gateway was always meant to be abandoned as soon as a suitable replacement could be found.  This blog has been a part of the broader initiative of Patheos, and at last Patheos has incorporated WordPress and the blog will be moved within the architecture of the Patheos site.  (Patheos had other blogs, but their limitations inspired me to start my own blog on WordPress, and Patheos was so pleased with this blog that it decided to run all of our blogs on WordPress.)

What this means is that we are moving.  The new location is here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/cross_and_culture/

Please Bookmark the new page.  And I apologize for the absence of new posts in the last 36 hours or so.  My family and I have been sick.  It’s unlikely I will have much time to offer over the weekend.  So look for new posts to begin at the new location on Monday.  And please be patient as we work out the kinks at Cross and Culture and get the right look and feel to it.

In fact, we’ll be starting some new features, features I’ve been waiting to introduce until the new blog launched.  We’ll still have the Morning Report and the Blogopticon, but we’ll also have other things.  And over time it will become more of a true group blog.  Thanks everyone for reading, and God bless!

-Tim Dalrymple

Morning Report, October 1st: The Lost Generation, Church Shootings, Hollywood Defends Itself, Hollywood Defends Polanski, Publishing Barbie, and Death by Live Mic

•October 1, 2009 • 3 Comments

One Christian’s perspective on the day’s news:

1.  LOST GERMANS.  I enjoyed this report (“A Lost Generation”) at Christianity Today on the condition of Christendom in what used to be known as East Germany.  Amidst the ashes of a formerly religious nation, some are recovering the spark of the missionary impulse that spread outward from Jerusalem 2000 years ago.  One passage was particularly interesting:

To many East Germans, the social gospel preached from many Protestant pulpits [after the fall of the Berlin Wall] sounded very much like a successor to Nazi and Soviet propaganda, Siemon-Netto said. It failed to draw people.

Today, Herbst estimates that more than 70 percent of East Germans—compared with 30 percent of West Germans—know virtually nothing about Christianity.

The phrase “social gospel” refers to those forms of Christian preaching that focus on the need to serve the poor, and in particular to combat systemic evils and oppressions.  When the social gospel movement flourished was at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when the effects of industrialization were keenly felt in ghettos and depressions, in racism, classism and sexism.  Even today in the most prestigious universities in the United States and Europe, the social gospel is the only gospel thought capable of intellectual defense.  Other gospels are routinely dismissed as mythological, imperialistic, oppressive.  Yet churches that focus solely on the social gospel rarely seem to flourish.

Why is this?  Why would the social gospel, preached in East Germany after the wall fell, fail to draw a crowd?  I have a few ideas.  First, because people know, deep down, that the teaching and the movement of Christ was more than a political ideology, more than a program for social transformation.  Second, because social justice ministries become elaborate exercises in vanity and self-congratulation when they are not accompanied by genuine inward transformation, the kind of transformation that no political program can convey.   And third, because the uniqueness of the Christian message is found in the claim that God became flesh in Jesus Christ, and that the fullness of God’s truth and love are conveyed to humankind in Christ alone.  In the social gospel, the crucifixion of Christ becomes an act of identification with the outcasts and the poor, and the resurrection becomes meaningless, a metaphor for our transcendence over injustice.  Salvation and the promise of eternal life, as these are traditionally understood, are lost.

If we need saving and eternal life, then no program of ethical and political action will ultimately satisfy.  The best churches are those that hold together the call to follow Christ into newness of life with the call to imitate Christ in service to the world.

2.  BULLETS AND BIBLES.  A surge in church shootings.  To be sure, there’s no reason for paranoia.  Christian churches are still safe places.  There is, however, an undercurrent today of animosity toward people whose faith is of a ‘conservative’ stripe.  There is animosity within churches, unfortunately, as shown recently in the recordings of a pastor from Phoenix ranting about how he hoped that Obama would die and go to hell.  Yet there is also animosity against churches, especially if those churches and their congregants stand in the way of progressive progress.  Don’t believe me?  Find an article on Sarah Palin at a liberal site, or an article on James Inhofe’s recent statement in regard to climate change that “God’s still up there,” and read the comments.

The media has spent a great deal of time fretting over conservative animosity toward the liberals who are shaping our country today.  I don’t disagree with that concern.  But will the media also worry about the animosity against religious conservatives?

3.  Hollywood celebrities, almost uniformly, have spoken up in defense of Roman Polanski.  (Hot Air asks how this compares to their response to Elia Kazan, who testified on communist infiltration of Hollywood, 47 years before he was honored at the Oscars).  Harvey Weinstein, responding to criticism of Hollywood for its defense of Roman Polanski, stated that “Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion.  We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.”

Wow.  This is a really striking thing to say, for a number of reasons.  First is simply the pride in saying that Hollywood (the essence of which is Harvey Weinstein) has “the best moral compass.”  A person like Harvey probably grows weary of hearing from those who disapprove morally of his films.  He probably grows weary of hearing that the heartland has a better sense of values.  So, as the ranks of Hollywood celebrities go shoulder to shoulder in defense of a man who drugged and raped a thirteen-year-old girl, he lashes out that Hollywood as “the best moral compass.”

What exactly is that moral compass?  It’s compassionate.  That’s the second point: Weinstein reduces morality to compassion.  Gone are any notion of principles, of self-restraint, of doing what is simply right.  That seems pretty typical, doesn’t it?  Hollywood, and in particular Weinstein films, is quite happy to throw off any notion of immorality in language, sex, drugs, alcohol and the like, not to mention inward matters such as pride, greed, and lust.  The important thing — or, rather, the only thing — is to have compassion.

Notice that Harvey does not say love.  Love sacrifices itself in order to do what is right for the beloved.  Compassion simply feels the pain of others.  Has Harvey sacrificed himself for the victims of 9/11 — really sacrificed, given until it hurt?  Has he given up his own comfort, his wealth, his career, his privilege, for the sake of the needy?  No.  When most people think of morality, they think of persevering in doing what is right when all the pressure is to do the opposite; they think of constraining one’s impulses for the sake of another; they think of throwing oneself in front of a bus to save a person’s life; they think of bringing a homeless person home to have a warm place to stay.  Harvey Weinstein thinks of…telethons.  Telethons are good things, and I’m sure that Weinstein has given more money to the poor than I have.  But unless one gives of oneself, deeply, painfully, then giving one’s money in things like telethons, or giving one’s time in benefit concerts becomes an exercise in self-justification, salving the guilty conscience and buying oneself another year to live morality-free.

4.  DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE.  Speaking of Roman Polanski, let’s deal with a few of the objections we’re hearing (apart from silly claims by filmmakers themselves that film festivals are de facto international territories):

First, so much time has passed.  Yes, it has passed because Polanski has lived as a fugitive from the law; you do not receive credit for a long time eluding the law.  Should we really establish a system where those who flee the law long enough get to avoid punishment?

Second, he’s suffered enough already.  It’s true that Polanski had a very difficult life prior to the rape, but he has lived in extraordinary wealth and privilege ever since.  Besides, we do not excuse a child-abuser simply because he was abused as a child, or a murdered because his parents died in the Holocaust.  Unless he lost his sanity, he must be held accountable for his actions, and there is no sign that he’s lost his sanity.

Third, the victim wants the case dropped.  The victim wants the case dismissed because she’s tired of having the sordid details of what happened to her brought up again and again in the news for her and for her family to read about.  Who is responsible for this?  Ultimately, Roman Polanski is responsible.  If he had manned up and faced the final sentencing and gone to jail, the victim would not have had this problem.  Not only did Roman Polanski betray the trust of a 13-year-old and violate her, but he betrayed her a second time when he denied her the justice of seeing him duly punished.

Fourth, the state of California has spent a lot of money on this, and it’s not necessary.  And who is responsible for the amount of money that California has spent?  Roman Polanski.  If he had attended his sentencing and gone to prison, so much money would not have had to be spent.  Not only should he receive whatever is his due, but he should pay the feds and California back for all the costs he has given them.

Fifth, the mother pushed her daughter on him (see Applebaum, Anne), making her essentially responsible for what happened.  The mother saw what appeared to be an extraordinary opportunity for her daughter.  That does not make her responsible for Samantha’s rape.  Only one person is responsible for the rape, and that is Roman Polanski.

Sixth, this was not a case of “rape-rape.”  I understand what Whoopi Goldberg was trying to say: that he pleaded down to unlawful sexual intercourse, and never admitted to outright raping her.  So we should focus not on what is alleged but on what is confessed.  The testimony of the victim is pretty damning, however, and I’ve seen no suggestion that the victim lied.  Regardless, Polanski drugged and had sex with a 13-year-old girl.  Even if she did give consent, she was too young to give consent, and she was drugged.  If there was any miscarriage of justice, it was in the agreement to plead down to unlawful sexual intercourse, basically letting a celebrity get away lightly for a terrible crime.

Seventh, there was a miscarriage of justice.  This is alleged but not yet clear.  A judge may have consulted with a prosecutor (not involved with the case) who helped to convince him not to accept the terms agreed to between the parties.  The prosecutor now says he did no such thing.  In any case, a judge has it in his discretion to impose a harsher sentence.  And if Polanski was mistreated by the judge, then let him return now and prove his case.

If this had been a priest, would Hollywood be defending him, even if the rape had happened years ago?  As one priest observes, “Entertainment, not religion, is the new opiate of the people and we don’t want our supply disturbed.”

Thankfully, many even on the Left, outside of Hollywood, are calling a spade a spade.  I’ve enjoyed some of Polanski’s movies.  But he deserves to be punished for what he did.  The elite (as David Paul Kuhn writes) are not above the law.

5.  WAY OVER YON-DER.  Michael Yon has done extraordinary work reporting from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Here is his clarifying take on the current stage of the conflict in Afghanistan.  The Obama administration continues to wrestle with what to do.  Pray wisdom for them.

6.  PALIN UNBOUND.  Extraordinary demand for Sarah Palin’s book; 48 days before it goes on sale and it’s already topping Dan Brown’s latest nonsense.

7.  PELOSI UNPLUGGED.  It is difficult not to see just a little hypocrisy here.

8.  DEATH BY LIVE MIC.  I have this strange fascination with what politicians say into live mics.  Previously we had the married Republican in California talking about his sexual escapades with another woman.  Now we have a Democrat deputy Governor from Kentucky talking about the Governor.  Lifts the curtain, doesn’t it?

9.  GRAYSON’S RHETORIC.  Congressman Alan Grayson is making a name for himself by using rhetoric that makes Joe Wilson seem like a statesman.  Responsible rhetoric is sorely needed on both sides of the aisle.

10.  THE CULTIVATION OF A TERRORIST.  Time tells us the story of Najibullah Zazi, the man now accused of plotting to explode WMD within the US.

11.  OBAMA’S AFGHANISTAN GAMBIT.  David Frum gives voice to my suspicions in his article today.  I never thought Obama was really eager to fight in Afghanistan, but found it a helpful rhetorical move in the midst of the 2008 campaign.  In other words, Obama wanted to show that he was not weak on defense, so he advocated “the good war,” the one that was more clearly connected with the 9/11 attack.  After he won the election, he inherited his own rhetoric and all that it bound him to.  Probably he thought that he could raise the number of troops there and we would quickly see a turnaround.  It has not happened so quickly, however.  So what course will Obama take?  Having given so much rhetoric about how Afghanistan was the true fight worth fighting, after posturing so much as the one who was not dovish but was hawkish on the right war, can he now turn his back and withdraw?  It seems incredibly unlikely, at least to me, that Obama will send 40K more troops, or even 20K.  I don’t know the right decision.  But I know I will be impressed with Obama’s courage if he decides to send 20K or more.

Whatever else Bush got wrong (and there was much), he got the Surge right — and there were very, very few who thought he was doing the right thing at the time.  It took substantial political courage.  I will be similarly impressed with Obama, if not moreso, if he chooses to grant McChrystal’s request.

12.  TODAY’S MANY-SIDES.  Too many interesting articles out there today to pick just two.  So I’m going to list some articles from both sides of the political spectrum that I find worth reading today:

George Will (conservative columnist) writes “On Climate, Bad News Will Resume.”

E. J. Dionne (liberal columnist” on why “The Public Option Only Looks Dead.”

Gordon Chang (conservative analyst) on “Sixty Years of Chinese Communism.”

Robert Barro and Charles Redlick (economists) on how “Stimulus Spending Does Not Work.”

Joe Klein (liberal opinion-meister) on “Ahmadinejad: Iran’s Man of Mystery.”

Blogopticon 09 30 09: Plumbing Demons and Spiritual Formation

•September 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today the Blogopticon highlights a new blog from Kathy Tuan-MacLean.  Kathy and I have been in a writing group together for the past 5 years, and she has been a friend for 7 years.  She’s a wise and deeply authentic woman.  A selection:

Often mothers experience tremendous guilt around these changes, thinking they’ve become unspiritual, godless, prayerless and faithless. As a Chinese-American performance junkie, my faith BK often revolved around an activist faith, where I pursued God and encouraged students and faculty to pursue with me. But when my life became subsumed with spurting milk ducts, hormonal swings and exploding diapers, there wasn’t much I could “do” for God. When our perception of God’s love for us revolves around our performance, we can quickly sink into discouragement as we lose our ability to perform.The good news is that the chaos, exhaustion and transition of motherhood gives us the opportunity to step into a better theology—one where God pursues us, and where we matter solely because we are His beloved. New motherhood gives us an unparalleled opportunity to learn and experience God’s grace as we embrace a new season of life. The good news for those of us who juggle many roles is that learning these deep truths about God and ourselves will only deepen and mature our character, our work and our relationships.

Here are some lessons and hints I’ve learned along the journey:

Click here to read the lessons Kathy has learned.

Blogopticon 09 29 09: Parchment and Pen, and Financial Need

•September 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Yes, the Blogopticon has only just sprung into existence, meaning it has not had much opportunity to establish a proper and felicitous identity and rhythm.  I should probably link to some fantastic blog entry somewhere.

But I’m not going to.  I’ve gotten to know Michael Patton a little bit; he runs Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, which operates The Theology Program, which has given excellent education to thousands after thousands of people who would not otherwise be able to receive a theological education.  Reclaiming the Mind also operates the lovely Parchment and Pen blog, and a regular podcast on matters ecclesial and theological.

Well, today Reclaiming the Mind Ministries finds itself in need.  So here is the post, with the appropriate link:

You know how much I hate to use the blog to ask for funding, but I must. . . I will keep it short and to the point.

Reclaiming the Mind Ministries is in immediate need of $20,000. We got behind this summer and everything is due by tomorrow. This need is very serious.

For those of you who don’t know, Parchment and Pen is the blog of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, a 501c3 not-for-profit ministry devoted to theological education.

You can donate here.

If you can, help them out.  They do important work, and they do it surpassingly well.

Morning Report, September 29th: Speaking for “the Faith Community,” Christian Existentialists, God Against Global Warming, More on Iran, Palin Literature, Pardoning Polanski, Mad Men, and the Everlasting Candidate

•September 29, 2009 • 1 Comment

One Christian’s perspective on the day’s news:

1.  Sojourners presents a special online forum on the issue of health-care reform, in which sixteen Christian leaders of various stripes share their thoughts on the moral dimensions of health-care reform and the contentious debate surrounding it.  Sojourners is at its best when it hosts conversations such as these, which represent the diversity of opinions within the Christian churches.

A few contributions deserve special comment.  It rather irks when Jim Wallis speaks for “the faith community,” as in the following: “Second, we have told the White House that the faith community will accept nothing less than accessible, affordable and secure coverage for everyone,” and “we” will also reject any “incremental approaches that will once again postpone” the needed dramatic transformations.  First of all, this makes it appear that people such as Jim Wallis have been pushing Obama hard, when they have actually, at least in what I’ve observed, been limp-noodle apologists, eager to call out the deceptions on the Right (and there have been many) but not those on the Left (and, yes, there have been many).  But second, isn’t this the kind of “claiming to speak for all Christians” that the Christian Left objected to in the Christian Right?  Does it mean that those who disagree are not a part of “the faith community”?  Wallis uses this phrase a lot when he’s writing about the health-care issue, and he and others used it also in the conference call that Sojourners helped to sponsor between President Obama and many faith leaders.  It’s not a slip of the keyboard.

But I appreciated the words of Kathy Khang:

I’ve grown weary of the health-care debate, because there’s less and less actual debating going on. There’s a lot of noise — loud voices coming from people accusing one another of fear-mongering, politicizing, hypocrisy, racism, and ignorance….I think we’re losing our way to reforming anything because some of us are too busy drawing lines in the sand…What difference does it all make if, in the name of reform, neighbors can’t be neighbors?Well, it matters to me because on most days I want to live out what I say I believe. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to love my neighbor when I think they are stupid and wrong. Justice and reform will have to start with my heart, before I open my mouth to help shift the noise back to reasonable and civil debate. Anyone want to join me?

Galen Carey of the NAE has a neutral, anodyne paragraph.  Also notable were the strong pieces from Chandra White-Cummings and Alveda King (it’s striking that all of the African-American commentators in this forum are quite critical, especially around the abortion issue); the over-the-top language (the current proposal is “patently evil”) of Harry Jackson, Jr. (why was he put second, after Wallis, I wonder?); Brian McLaren’s condescension toward an immature America; Lisa Sharon Harper’s egregious New Testament interpretation (she translates — not interprets, but translates — the “righteous” who are invited into the kingdom as “those who seek to create fair systems” and “level the playing field”) and her non-sequitur that “many who claim to be pro-life trumpeted choice over the past month” (as though opposing this health-care reform package makes one pro-death?).

And I also wanted to note Gina Dalfonzo’s comment:

For the record — though it shouldn’t even need to be said — it’s no fairer to lump everyone who voted against Barack Obama into one big group of racists than it would be to lump everyone who voted against Sarah Palin into one big group of sexists. Of course there are subsets of racists and sexists in these respective camps, and goodness knows they can be unpleasantly vocal. But to ascribe the basest possible motives to an opponent just because one disagrees with his or her ideas is the last thing a Christian should be doing. And this goes for both sides. We must learn to listen respectfully to what others are really saying, not to what our preconceptions tell us they must be saying and thinking.

More than anything, the topic of health care should remind us of the dignity and worth of each individual, and the significance of his or her opinions, needs, and values, in the eyes of our Creator. Without that shared belief to guide us, we will never get anywhere.

Read it here.

Relatedly, members of Congress from both parties are lining up behind a new bill that would exclude federal funds from subsidizing abortion.  Wait a minute!  Weren’t those merely “distortions,” “lies” and “distractions,” when pro-lifers claimed that taxpayer money would go to subsidize abortions?  Apparently not.  I believe the bill will be voted on today.  Pray for it.

Also, pollster Dick Morris says that the elderly are turning increasingly against the health-care reform packages on the table.

2.  EXISTING EXISTENTIALLY.  Marvin Olasky is a pretty prominent figure at World Magazine and its website.  They often offer videos of Olasky discussing Calvin or etc.  Now you can listen to Olasky describing the way he became Christian, and this particular podcast (this is not a permanent link, alas) reflects on the role of Christian existentialists in moving him from his days as an atheistic communist to his present life as a Christian.  Since Christian existentialists have also meant a lot to me, I thought I’d share his thoughts.

3.  GOD AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING?  Some are upset by the words of Senator Inhofe when a caller to the television show on which he was appearing said, more or less, that the climate changes we are seeing are no different from the natural variations that have always taken place, long before any technology that might have influenced it.  Inhofe replied, “I think he’s right.  I think what he’s saying is God’s still up there.  We’re going through these cycles…”

Is this confirmation of my long-held suspicion (mentioned here before) that many devout Christians are not especially concerned about climate change because they believe that divine providence would not allow a worldwide climate disaster?  It could be.  Inhofe’s point seems to be that nothing’s really changed.  This is a saying one often hears amongst Christians when someone feels as though everything has changed: “God’s still in heaven.”  It essentially means that the world stays more or less the same, but it also has at least a touch of confidence in God’s governance of history.

In any case, I don’t think Inhofe’s comments are worth the fury and paranoia they’ve awakened on some Democratic websites like ThinkProgress and Democratic Underground.

4.  DIFFERENCES OF INTELLIGENCE.   The New York Times reports that there are strong disagreements between U.S., European and Israeli intelligence services on Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon — in particular over the weaponization phase.  The Israelis believe the Iranians are currently weaponizing; the Germans also believe they are currently doing so, and have never stopped; the US continues to maintain that Iran halted its weaponization program in 2003 and has not resumed it.

The head of intelligence for the Department of energy says: ““It’s often tradecraft that gets us bollixed up.  It comes down to interpreting the same data in different ways, in looking at the same information and coming up with different conclusions.”

The Israelis and Europeans feel that we’re being overly cautious, having been burned on Iraqi WMD.  It’s possible.  It’s also possible that our intelligence reports are being swayed by the political preferences of the bureaucrats who work at CIA and State from one administration to the next.  What makes matters worse is that the Iranians, if they have any intelligence at all (which of course they do), would not put all their eggs in one basket, or even two.  As a Harvard specialist in nuclear terrorism says, “How likely is it that the Qum facility is all there is? Zero. A prudent manager of a serious program would certainly have a number of sites.”

Feeling confident?

5.  THREATENING CONSEQUENCES.  If talks with Iran founder, the White House plans not so much new sanctions as tighter enforcement of sanctions already in place.  Two points are especially worth nothing.  First, what is the time frame?  Spokesman for the State Department, P. J. Crowley, said we will assess their progress “towards the end of the year” and if we are unhappy then “There will be implication and consequences.”  Second, claims that scrapping the plans to put missile shield bases in Poland and the Czech Republic had resulted in a movement toward cooperation from Russia–claims made by many liberal pundits in recent days–appear to have been premature.  “Russian officials on Monday began backing off from statements made last week by President Dmitry Medvedev suggesting that Russian resistance to sanctions was weakening.”

Whether or not I agree with him on the changes needed, I can recognize that Obama has exercised leadership on the health-care reform issue.  I think it would have been better to craft more of the legislation out of the White House, but I give credit to Obama for persevering in the face of opposition, dissension and struggle, pressing often-reluctant parties to get something done.  My question: is he willing to exercise this kind of leadership on the international stage, when it comes to Iran?  Will he lean very, very hard on Russia and China to give the sanctions more bite?  I’d love to see it.

6.  EXPLOSIVE DISCOVERY.  The story of how we learned about the second nuclear facility at Qom/Qum.  Gerald Seib explains the questions we should be asking Iran.  Nicolas Sarkozy is furious at Obama, and contemptuous of the endless calls for negotiations, because every week that passes is another week of spinning centrifuges.  If we do not solve this now, solving it later may be much more damaging, even catastrophic.  Let’s hope Obama is getting good advice.

7.  PALINALIA.  Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rogue: An American Life, is finished and already running a first order of 1.5 million copies.

8.  A REAL PIECE OF WORK.  The predicted celebrity defense of Roman Polanski has indeed materialized.  Whoopi Goldberg tells us that what he did was not so bad.  It was just “rape,” not the worse double version, known to Whoopi as “rape-rape.”  Watch the video.  But give Whoopi some credit; she says that she would “not necessarily” want a 14-year-old daughter having sex with someone.  She also thinks the mother should “end up in court” for leaving her daughter alone with the famous director.  Hmm.

Debra Winger complains that the case was “all but dead but for minor technicalities.  We stand by and wait for his release and his next masterwork.”  As one observer writes, “Again: Convicted child-rapist and fugitive from justice. Magically transformed, by Hollywood libertinism and [blank], into an honest-to-goodness victim who’s being persecuted by the evil empire for, um, forcibly sodomizing a 13-year-old and then skipping bail.”

Eugene Robinson objects, Anne Applebaum (who wrote a defense in WashPo) claims not to have known that her husband was a Polish politician pushing for Polanski’s release, and an even better article on the issue is found below, in the Column of the Day.

9.  OLYMPIC GAMBLE.  Is Obama’s trip to Copenhagen, hoping to win the Olympics in 2016 for Chicago, a wise political gamble?

10.  SALON GOES TO HOME SCHOOL.  Salon has begun a series on homeschooling.  The first article is great.  Check it out.

11.  MAD MEN GOING MAD?  Review of Mad Men and its change in tone.

12.  THE EVERGREEN CANDIDATE.  Richard Cohen, the dean of Washington opinion columnists, is not a conservative thinker.  Indeed he inclines to the liberal side of the spectrum.  So it’s surprising to see lines like this from him in today’s article: “The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief.”

13.  COLUMN OF THE DAY, Part I.  Instead of a Two-Sides, today I’m citing two strong columns.  At Patheos I explained my argument long ago that the financial crisis we face as a nation is due in part to the erosion of the basic moral values that undergird a successful economy, including restraint, self-discipline, diligence, industry, and honesty.  Although I heard from many people who said that this resonated with their own intuitions, I also took flack from some people.  Then Steven Malanga at the Manhattan Institute made the same argument.  Now David Books at the New York Times does the same.

14.  COLUMN OF THE DAY, Part II: This piece of righteous indignation over Hollywood’s defense of Roman Polanski, from the Broadsheet at Salon, is well worth reading.

Blogopticon 09 28 09: Goannatree and Samuel Johnson’s Prayer

•September 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today the Blogopticon was delighted with this profound, lovely and relatively brief (and therefore practical) pray from Samuel Johnson, shared at one of my favorite smaller blogs, Goannatree.  The blogger notes that she says this prayer for herself on the first day as a doctoral student at the University of Saint Andrews:

Almighty God, in whose hands are all the powers of man; who givest understanding, and takest it away; who as it seemeth good unto Thee, enlightenest the thoughts of the simple, and darkenest the meditations fo the wise, be present with me in my studies and enquiries.

Grant, O LORD, that I may not lavish away the life which Thou hast given me on useless trifles, not waste it in vain searches after things which Thou hast hidden from me.

Enable me, by the Holy Spirit, so to shun sloth and negligence, that every day may discharge part of the task which Thou hast allotted me; and so further with Thy help that labour which, without thy help must be ineffectual, such success as will most promote thy glory, and the salvation of my own soul, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Check out the blog here.