Morning Report, July 13
6 Christian churches were bombed in Baghdad in the space of 24 hours. One hopes that the Iraqi forces are able to maintain the peace now that we have withdrawn–and we should pray for that part of the Body of Christ that today is suffering because of the loss of loved ones.
Sarah Palin bashing continues apace, even amongst conservatives. Of course, there will always be internal dissensions over particular candidates, since political parties in a two-party system are inevitably coalitions of numerous sub-groups with competing interests and preferences. Palin will no more drive a wedge into the heart of the Republican party than Obama did for Democrats. Yet the tensions exposed by Palin are largely cultural; Palin is largely opposed by the business elites who are economic conservatives, and large supported by that portion of the base that is culturally conservative. Her policies are pro-growth for the private sector, but the literati inside the beltway fear that she would not attract enough independents to win (remember independents first loved Palin, then swung against her), and business conservatives would rather have a Mitt Romney, someone who speaks their language and understands their needs.
A great example today of how major media organs, especially when motivated by the interest of self-defense, can cherry-pick findings to give a false impression of a government report. Read this story from the New York Times about the “limited” effectiveness of the Bush-era program that listened to phone conversations between those with suspected terrorist ties inside and outside of the United States. Not that it is reported by the same two authors who first revealed its existence–and who therefore have a vested interest in saying that the program they exposed (and thus rendered ineffective) was not effective in the first place. Then read this response and this response (the second in particular is devastating) from lawyers who have observed the unfolding story.
Another program is under attack for having been concealed from Congress. If indeed the Bush administration concealed what it should have revealed, then there is indeed a legitimate issue here. The story is more complex, however, than it first appears. Apparently the program, which sought to capture and kill al-Qaeda leaders (and who would be against that?), had been approved by Congress when in the conceptual stage, and never really went beyond the conceptual stage. At least, that’s the case if people are telling the truth. Still it’s a convenient story if you’re looking to keep people inflamed against the Bush administration.
Yet another person deceived in a Sascha Baron Cohen movie threatens to sue. I find some of his comedy hilarious, but I wonder how Cohen justifies what he does? He invites people to interviews under completely false pretenses, then exploits them for money. And he makes an awful lot of money. This is no radical subverter of the status quo. This is someone engaged in illegal and immoral practices, who makes many millions off of his deceptions–and we celebrate him?
An enjoyable conversation with Francis Collins, a devout believer, the former head of the Human Genome Project and now (assuming he is confirmed) the head of the National Institutes of Health.
And finally, a very interesting reflection on theology, biblical interpretation and the intellectual underpinnings of modern science. An excellent new book, “The Word and the World,” makes the claim that Protesantism’s focus on individual and rigorous biblical interpretation provided at least a part of “the heremeneutical mode conducive to the development of science.” In any case, the article is well worth the read for its summary of the challenges to the caricature of science and religion as implacable enemies.