Philocrites : Scrapbook : March 2004 Archive

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Errors in fighting Al Qaeda have worsened the danger

Quoted 03.30.04:

Are the Spanish people guilty of appeasing the terrorists, as many are now suggesting? To pose this question demonstrates extraordinary ignorance about the nature of the terrorist threat we confront. . . .

The Bush administration made a grave error when, reeling from the shock of Sept. 11, it chose to defy its allies. Rather than allowing the March 11 tragedy to sow even further discord among us, now is the time to band together, including by working together to create a functioning state in Iraq. We need to become as savvy at psychological warfare as is our enemy. Whenever and wherever possible, we should be sowing confusion and dissent among Al Qaeda and its franchises, not allowing Al Qaeda to sow confusion among us.

It is possible to fight this foe only if we stay focused on its true nature -- it is addicted to a nihilistic holy war. It will not be appeased by minor victories in Spain or anywhere else.

Jessica Stern, Boston Globe 3.25.04

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Rogue nation

Quoted 03.28.04:

If today we are shocked by shenanigans like the Enron debacle, insider trading, mutual fund abuses and the prevalence of special interests in politics, we need to get some perspective on our history. Americans, according to [Walter A.] McDougall, have always been scramblers, gamblers, scofflaws and speculators.

Gordon S. Wood, New York Times Book Review 3.28.04, reg req'd

Saturday, March 27, 2004

The birth of the meta-protest rally?

Quoted 03.27.04:

Applause erupted from the ranks of the flag-wavers at the arrival of such beautiful people. Pro-Bush people happily backed up, ceding the most prime piece of their ''free speech zone.'' Then it happened. Halfway across the street — in that moment of eerie suspension as the bare flick of a police officer's hand caused the dragon of traffic to pause — you could see the epiphany. The newcomers unfurled their giant banner: ''Billionaires for Bush.'' The revelation — is this somebody's idea of joke? — moved across the faces of the crowd like a wave undulating through a sports arena. Amid the hand-drawn placards, the Billionaires unsheathed their professionally printed, brightly colored laminated posters.

''Leave No Billionaire Behind.''

Jack Hitt, New York Times Magazine 3.28.04, reg req'd

Friday, March 26, 2004

Billionaires for Bush? Well, yes and no

Quoted 03.26.04:

They were in ball gowns and suits and drinking champagne. "Bush and Cheney are good for us," they chanted.

"Look at all these liberal hippies coming around with their boo-hoo signs," said one of them, a woman in a silver lame wrap and designer sunglasses.

Some of the protesters turned, stunned. But then someone pointed to the signs the fancy-dresssed group was carrying — "Free the Enron Seven" and "Corporations are People Too!" — and the crowd erupted with shouts of approval.

Donovan Slack, Boston Globe 3.26.04

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Belittle Richard.

Quoted 03.25.04:

Jon Stewart, The Daily Show 3.24.04 [RealVideo], via Political Aims

Monday, March 22, 2004

The man with The Purpose

Quoted 03.22.04:

[The Rev. Rick Warren's] Purpose-Driven philosophy offers instruction for individuals and churches. Warren writes in his book that God has five purposes for people's lives: to bring enjoyment to him, to be a part of his family, to behave like him, to serve him and to act as his missionary. The payoff for abiding by these precepts, Warren promises, is reduced stress, sharper focus, simplified decision making, greater meaning to life and better preparation for eternity. For Purpose-Driven church leaders, he has developed an "evangelism strategy" that includes a casual dress code, convenient parking, bright lights, live bands, short prayers and simple sermons that accentuate the positive. The result, he says, will lead not only to filled pews but, ultimately, to more saved souls. For Warren, that's the best barometer of church health. . .

Wade Clark Roof, author of Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion, says Saddleback's megachurch ministry appeals to the notion that size equals success. "We're told that [his philosophy] not only does something for you in the sense of giving your life meaning but it also makes you happy materially, religiously and spiritually," Roof says. "What Rick is marketing is a kind of American religious ideology that conflates growth with salvation."

Sonja Steptoe, Time 3.29.04, via Slate

Friday, March 19, 2004

McCain defends Kerry's record on national security

Quoted 03.19.04:

"I do not believe that he is, quote, 'weak on defense,' " [Republican Sen. John] McCain (Ariz.) said on NBC's "Today" show.

Asked on the CBS "Early Show" whether he agreed with Vice President Cheney's assertion that Kerry is a threat to national security, McCain said: "I don't think that. I think that John Kerry is a good and decent man. . . . I think he has different points of view on different issues, and he will have to explain his voting record. But this kind of rhetoric, I think, is not helpful in educating and helping the American people make a choice."

Charles Babington, Washington Post 3.19.04, reg req'd

The right mix of hard and soft power

Quoted 03.19.04:

Getting the right mix of hard and soft power is crucial to US leadership in the world, but promoting democracy is better done with carrots than sticks. And the alarming rise of anti-Americanism all over the world is not going to make it any easier.

If war is necessary, a model of the right way to go about it is the way George Bush senior carefully and patiently gathered his coalition together to attack Iraq and free Kuwait. His son's necessary intervention in Afghanistan met the standards of legitimacy. The wrong way was amply illustrated by the current Iraq war that began a year ago, and the United States is paying a heavy price for its mistakes.

H.D.S. Greenway, Boston Globe 3.19.04

Kerry's model of leadership

Quoted 03.19.04:

[T]hough Kerry's George Washington speech was tough in its critique of administration policy, the senator's principal intent was to lay out his so-called bill of rights for military families.

The obvious purpose of Cheney's scathing speech, on the other hand, was to discredit Kerry as weak on national security and unfit as a possible commander in chief.

Against that bitter backdrop, Kerry's careful effort to urge Spain to stay in Iraq bespoke a sense of responsibility Cheney did not display. Despite the vice president's characterization, the senator understands the point that foreign policy experts from former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have made: If the US efforts in Iraq don't succeed, the world will be left with a failed and dangerous state.

Scott Lehigh, Boston Globe 3.19.04

Breakdancing defined early hip-hop, is back and booming

Quoted 03.19.04:

On a recent weekend, the First Unitarian basement was packed with three circles of dancers — including suburbanites from as far away as Sellersville, Pa. — who had paid $7 each to see and be seen. As a DJ worked a pair of turntables and a graffiti artist sprayed on an easel, a mostly teenage, mostly male group as diverse as the United Nations soaked in the old-school vibe.

Annette John-Hall [Knight Ridder], Kansas City Star 3.8.04

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Could Stern's anti-Bush rants shock the vote?

Quoted 03.18.04:

Is "shock jock" Howard Stern — stripper aficionado, champion of misfits everywhere, all-purpose radio provocateur — already giving liberals a voice on the airwaves? And is that voice powerful enough to affect the upcoming presidential election?

Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe 3.18.04; see also "Howard Stern's schwing voters," Eric Boehlert, Salon 3.12.04 (free pass)

Methodists put minister on trial for declaring herself a lesbian

Quoted 03.18.04:

She is charged with violating church law by living in a homosexual relationship, which United Methodist Church law says is "incompatible with Christian teachings."

But this is a church at war with itself, enforcing a law that many of its own clerics and members here say they find immoral and un-Christian. Ms. Dammann's defense lawyer . . . said, "Karen has chosen not to live the lie. She has invited the United Methodist Church to come out of the closet with her and live a life of open honesty."

When a grim Ms. Dammann arrived at the church just northeast of Seattle on Wednesday with her partner and their young son at her side, she was hugged by supportive clergy members, praised by the bishop who had pressed the charges against her and hailed as a hero by dozens of hymn-singing protesters who made a show of blocking the door of the church to prevent the trial from going forward.

Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 3.18.04, reg req'd

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

A church's ringing endorsement of gay marriage

Quoted 03.17.04:

About 100 congregants of the Bell Street Chapel formed a circle in the pocket park beside their church yesterday and rang bells and jiggled key chains in support of gay marriage.

Providence Journal 3.15.04

Gay pastor's church trial to start tomorrow

Quoted 03.17.04:

Tomorrow the Rev. Karen Dammann, who three years ago declared she was in an openly gay relationship, faces perhaps one of the most grueling events of her life: a church trial for breaking United Methodist law by being a minister while in such a relationship.

Last week, the pastor, who formerly served in Seattle and most recently in Ellensburg, experienced one of the happiest events: She got married.

Janet I. Tu, Seattle Times 3.16.04

Monday, March 15, 2004

New York ministers charged for marrying gays

Quoted 03.15.04:

Unitarian Universalist ministers Kay Greenleaf and Dawn Sangrey were charged with multiple counts of solemnizing a marriage without a license, the same charges leveled against New Paltz Mayor Jason West, who last month drew the state into the widening national debate over same-sex unions.

The charges carry a fine of $25 to $500 or up to two years in jail.

Michael Hill [AP], Guardian 3.15.04

The age of the wimpy liberal is over

Quoted 03.15.04:

For too long, too many [on the left] have been gripped by the fantasy of a politics that has never and will never exist, a politics of consensus and cooperation where after a good talk and a good hug all disagreement is swept away and our shared values guide us toward a single set of goals. While progressives sit around musing about how great it would be if we could all just get along, conservatives have been beating the crap out of them. The sooner they get rid of this fantasy the sooner they can start getting something accomplished.

Let's face it: in the real world, politics is not about consensus. Politics is about conflict — about out-arguing, out-thinking, and out-working your adversaries. . . .

Laying the foundation for future victories will require money, energy, thought and patience. But if they want to help make our nation a truer reflection of the noble ideals on which it was founded, progressives will have to strap on the chain mail, jump on their horses, and ride into battle. If they do it right, the first years of the 21st century may be remembered as the end of the age of the wimpy liberal — and the beginning of the age of the progressive warrior.

Paul Waldman, The Gadflyer new! 3.15.04

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Pick & choose: When one religion doesn't fit, some choose interfaith spirituality

Quoted 03.13.04:

"In effect, it's a new religion," said John Lamoreaux, who teaches religion at Southern Methodist University. "There's Buddhism, and there's also Barnes & Noble Buddhism. A person can pick and choose from the world's tradition and create a spirituality that has little connection with historical reality." . . .

Historically, many people drawn to an integrative approach to spiritually have gravitated to Bahá'í or to Unitarian Universalist congregations. But today, those who identify their path as "interfaith spirituality" often aren't interested in religious affiliation, scholars said.

Susan Hogan Albach, Dallas Morning News 3.12.04, reg req'd

On campus, rethinking Biology 101

Quoted 03.13.04:

Luke, a 23-year-old international-relations major, is at the cutting edge of a new kind of campus activism: transgender students and their allies who are convincing colleges to meet needs that include private bathrooms and showers, specialized housing and sports teams on which students who don't identify themselves as either male or female can play. In the last year, transgender students have won accommodations from four East Coast colleges, including Wesleyan, Sarah Lawrence and Smith.

While it isn't clear if the number of students who consider themselves transgender is increasing, their openness — a generation after gay and lesbian students began identifying themselves on campuses — clearly is.

Fred A. Bernstein, New York Times 3.7.04, reg req'd

Doing battle in the boardroom

Quoted 03.13.04:

But before her landmark gay marriage lawsuit triumphed in the courts, lead plaintiff Julie Goodridge had quietly taken her battle to corporate boardrooms, where the stockbroker-turned-activist has persuaded a half-dozen companies to amend their nondiscrimination policies to include gays and lesbians.

Sasha Talcott, Boston Globe 3.10.04

Friday, March 12, 2004

Gay marriage becomes gay 'marriage'

Quoted 03.12.04:

Massachusetts will ban gay marriage, but will also install the right to same-sex civil unions, "to provide entirely the same benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities that are afforded to couples married under Massachusetts law."

This is supposedly a compromise, but we're having trouble seeing what the anti-gay marriage folks got out of the deal. It's not like they also outlawed white dresses and bad cover bands. Are they going to stand outside Unitarian churches with signs? "You're not really married! Nah-nah-nah-nah!" Or, "We saved divorce for the people who really need it"? The big question: Will they be able to compel gays to drink from the "homos only" water fountain?

Ana Marie Cox, Wonkette 3.12.04

Poll finds growing support for gay civil unions

Quoted 03.12.04:

About half the country — 51 percent — favors allowing gay couples to form civil unions with the same basic legal rights as married couples, up 6 percentage points in less than a month. A slightly larger majority also rejected amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages in favor of allowing states to make their own laws, an increase of 8 percentage points in recent weeks.

But it's too early to draw firm conclusions from these results. Polling on gay marriage has been particularly volatile. Support for giving states the right to decide on who can get married stood at 58 percent in January, dipped to 45 percent in February and now stands at 53 percent in the latest Post-ABC News poll.

Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, Washington Post 3.10.04, reg req'd

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The joy of gay marriage

Quoted 03.11.04:

Even the self-appointed defenders of marriage will allow that entering into that kind of commitment with another person is in a very basic way an affirmation of life. Yes, those so-called defenders of marriage will emphasize that the "purpose" of marriage is procreation. However, the spark of marriage begins long before conception, usually in the hearts of the parties involved. The "life" to which one is saying "yes," is not just that which occurs with sperm meets ovum. It is one's own, but not just one's own.

How? At the core of love is belief and hope. Belief in one's own worthiness of love, and one's ability to love. And hope in the goodness of another and his/her ability to love. It's that believe [sic] and hope that leads to the risk of loving; the risk that requires faith in another, and encourages faith in others.

When people take vows, they usually do so in front of a gathering of family and friends; a community, if you will. And in some ceremonies, those gathered to witness the vows also promise to help the couple maintain their vows. So it's also saying yes to community, and yes to strengthening community, whether the union includes children or not.

Terrance Heath, Gay Spirituality & Culture 3.9.04

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The mystery of 'The Passion'

Quoted 03.10.04:

At the end of the film, I was shaken and drained. I earnestly hope I will never again see such harrowing scenes of brutality. My appreciation of the physicality of the crucifixion has increased tremendously. My anger at the way that Christians casually emphasize general Judaic responsibility for Jesus’ horrible death, while they trivialize or shrug off Rome’s blame, has grown also. My sense of the historic embroideries of the Passion tradition has modulated from detached curiosity to engaged fascination and repulsion. My faith, such as it is, was perhaps least affected by the experience; what I saw this afternoon involves my feelings more than my understanding of who God is.

But that points to one of the tremendous aspects of this film, its strength and its weakness: Gibson has wrought a cinematic artifice that almost entirely escapes his intentions. . . . Gibson has disclaimed responsibility for the harm this movie may cause to Jews, to relations between Jews and Christians, to the Christians whose self-hatred succumbs to a spirit of destruction and mortification, since he did not intend those effects. He did undeniably intend, however, to sow the wind that has stirred up more-than-merely-human forces already. Who will reap the whirlwind — and who will cash the checks that flow to Icon Productions?

Same-sex marriage ministers to meet with prosecutor

Quoted 03.10.04:

While Unitarian Universalist ministers have been performing same-sex ceremonies for decades, a potential issue in this case is whether the serial weddings were conducted as religious or civil ceremonies.

The women were invited to talk with prosecutors in Kingston about what their intentions were last weekend, according to their lawyer, Robert Gottlieb.

Greenleaf and Sangrey each said Wednesday they viewed them as civil ceremonies. Gottlieb said the ministers were upholding the couples' constitutional rights.

AP, Newsday 3.10.04

Many major Kerry donors actually give more to Bush.

Quoted 03.10.04:

Glen Justice, New York Times 3.10.04, reg req'd

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Unitarian ministers defy authorities by conducting same-sex weddings in New Paltz

Quoted 03.09.04:

"I have never knowingly violated the law at any previous time in my life," said Dawn Sangrey, the minister who leads the Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester County. "I am perfectly willing to face jail and fines for conducting these marriages." . . .

The marriages conducted by the ministers and Mr. West took place without the customary marriage licenses, and will probably face court challenges. State law allows clergymen, mayors and certain other officials to officiate at weddings, but they can do so only for couples with marriage licenses. Donald A. Williams, the Ulster County district attorney, who charged Mr. West last week with 19 counts of solemnizing marriages without licenses, said he intended to prosecute anyone else who broke that law.

Thomas Crampton, New York Times 3.7.04 (reg req'd)

Prosecutor weighs new charges in New Paltz

Quoted 03.09.04:

The prosecutor who criminally charged a mayor for performing same-sex weddings is reviewing whether to charge two ministers who stepped in to marry gay couples who did not have marriage licenses.

New Paltz Mayor Jason West faces 19 misdemeanors and possible jail time for officiating at weddings Feb. 27 for couples who lacked a license. With West under a restraining order, a group of New Paltz residents lined up two Unitarian Universalist ministers to perform about a dozen gay weddings Saturday in the village 75 miles north of New York City.

Michael Hill [AP], Ithaca Journal 3.9.04

Unitarians open arms to Utahns

Quoted 03.09.04:

Utah's Unitarian community is but a small blip in a state dominated by one religion -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- and populated by several smaller, but significantly sized sects.

In fact, the Unitarians' greatest claim to local fame is in their church's ongoing role as a litigant opposing Salt Lake City's sale of the Main Street Plaza to the LDS Church. But in pulling their five state congregations together for the first time ever Sunday at the University of Utah, the Unitarians made a new kind of noise.

The message: We're here, we're growing and we intend to spread our creed of diversity and inclusion to all who are willing to listen.

Joe Baird, Salt Lake Tribune 3.8.04

Monday, March 8, 2004

The redemption of 'The Passion'

Quoted 03.08.04:

Mel Gibson has defended his film from attacks of anti-Semitism, and I choose to believe that he is sincere, that he did not set out to make an anti-Semitic movie. Gibson's self-professed, passionate belief in the power of Jesus' suffering and death as an act of atonement for the sin guilt of all people could well mean that he does not see the movie he made as casting blame on any one group of people, past or present. Yet, to paraphrase an aphorism about the craft of writing, the filmmaker knows what she or he intended to say; the audience knows what was said.

Erik Walker Wikstrom, Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship 3.2.04

A 'Passion' out of proportion

Quoted 03.08.04:

I still believe (as I recently had occasion to write) that "religion is, by and large, a force for good, and that it does not become less good when it emerges from the home and temple and assumes its rightful place in society." But I also believe, now more than ever, that when religion does emerge in the public square, it should do so prudently and responsibly.

This does not require an attenuation of religious faith or creed. But it does require a respect for other religious faiths and creeds and, even more, a respect for a civil society that makes possible the peaceful coexistence of all faiths and creeds. And this, in turn, requires a sense of propriety and proportion, a recognition that passions and emotions appropriate to the home and church may not be appropriate to the public sphere, that depictions of violence and barbarity that may have spiritual meaning for a particular faith may be not only derogatory to another faith but also detrimental to society, sanctioning and encouraging a culture all too well disposed to violence and barbarity.

Gertrude Himmelfarb, Washington Post 3.7.04, reg req'd

Facts of life

Quoted 03.08.04:

There has been much debate about whether Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ gets the facts of Jesus' crucifixion right. But this discussion has largely missed the point. Where the movie errs is not in its relaying of the facts--though its depiction of a relatively benign Pontius Pilate is both ahistorical and unfaithful to the gospels--but rather in fetishizing the facts of Jesus' crucifixion above all else, and doing so by separating the story of Jesus' death from the larger context of Christian faith.

Lorenzo Albacete, New Republic Online 3.5.04

Thursday, March 4, 2004

'The Passion of the Christ': Blooper reel

Quoted 03.04.04:

Jesus carries a heavy wooden cross through Jerusalem, assisted by Simon (Jarreth Merz).
Jesus: Wait a second. [puts down cross]
Off Camera: What is it?
Jesus: [wipes right eye] There’s something in my eye.
Simon: Oh my God, it’s a mote.
Off Camera: [laughter] . . .

Paul Ford, The Morning News 3.2.04

Divine words

Quoted 03.04.04:

TO: Mel Gibson
FROM: Jesus the Christ
RE: My Passion

Mel, Mel, Mel, Why do you hate me so? . . .

Tony Hendra, American Prospect Online 3.2.04

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

City's flash mob lacks flash, mob

Quoted 03.03.04:

The essence of flash mobs seemed lost on the BostonReads workers, who sent out a citywide press release the day before their event, but didn't get around to the e-mail or cellphone part of it. Said ReadBoston spokeswoman Jessica Shumaker: "Hey, we're trying, right? For the city, that's pretty hip."

Donovan Slack, Boston Globe 3.3.04

Lawmakers backing gay marriage poll colleagues

Quoted 03.03.04:

On Monday, a dozen or so lawmakers -- all of whom back the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage -- met privately at the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters next to the State House to devise a questionnaire to determine the mood of the Legislature before it reconvenes a constitutional convention next week.

Strategists at the meeting said the legislators developed questions that will gauge how much support they will have if they continue to try to defeat the various initiatives to ban gay marriage. They particularly want to know how strongly each member feels about holding the line against the amendments, including voting to adjourn without a decision.

Frank Phillips, Boston Globe 3.3.04

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

What's a Boston Brahmin?

Quoted 03.02.04:

By applying the term to his native Boston, [Dr. Oliver Wendell] Holmes was describing a more secular but equally powerful group—the city's entrenched WASP elite, or what he called its "harmless, inoffensive, untitled aristocracy."

Andy Bowers, Slate 3.1.04