Philocrites : Scrapbook : May 2004 Archive

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Does the GOP have a lock on God?

Quoted 05.30.04:

[A]fter all, in 2000 didn't 91 percent of Bush's voters tell pollsters they were "religious"? It's a stunning number — until you realize that 81 percent of Al Gore's voters told the same pollsters they were "religious" too. Contrary to conservatives' heated claims, America hasn't really been fighting a new "culture war" between the "religious" right and the "secular" left these past 30 years. Instead, this remarkably religious country — where nine out of 10 Americans profess to believe in God — has more accurately been fighting the same old culture wars it's fought since the 1600s, between tolerance and exclusivity, between those who welcome pluralism and disagreement and those who don't.

Richard Parker, Boston Globe 5.30.04

Friday, May 28, 2004

Key to success

Quoted 05.28.04:

Wesley ClarkAbsent significant changes, we are headed for failure. But the problem is not just that our goal of an American-style democracy is too ambitious; it's also that we've lacked the resources to meet it. Constructing a stable, representative government in Iraq is possible, provided we alter our strategy and tactics. To date, we have relied too heavily on our military to conduct tasks for which it is neither culturally prepared nor well-trained. While our troops should help secure the borders and handle internal threats that are too large for the still-nascent Iraqi forces, they should, as soon as possible, stop policing the country for one simple reason: They're not very good at it.

Wesley K. Clark, New Republic 6.7.04

Why are men more interested in politics?

Quoted 05.28.04:

[F]ollowing politics is less the manifestation of high-minded concern for public affairs that we junkies would like to think of it as, and more like sports fandom — a semi-arbitrary decision to follow something and develop an emotional attachment to a team just because it's fun.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Quoted 05.26.04:

A century after [William] James advocated national service as "The Moral Equivalent of War," community service has become a national and pedagogical priority. Efforts to galvanize a self-absorbed generation have spawned not just "service-learning" programs and requirements in schools, but, for those who can afford it, a surge in summer teen programs that blend volunteerism with exotic travel. "Servi-tourism," you might call a phenomenon that has become part of ever more elaborate precollege prep—important for résumé enhancement, even when it isn't an actual graduation requirement.

Ann Hulbert, Slate 5.25.04

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The rebirth of the 'NYRB'

Quoted 05.25.04:

With certain exceptions, the finest writing [in the New York Review of Books] has flowed from the pens of contributors over the age of 60. "It isn't a bunch of youngbloods doing the lively political coverage at the Review, it's the old pros who have been writing for them for years," says James Wolcott, a columnist for Vanity Fair. "To me it's similar to the situation that occurred before the war with Iraq, when it was the silver-haired brigade—Mailer, Vidal, John le Carré, Kurt Vonnegut, Jimmy Breslin—who were most vehemently opposed while so many baby boomer journalists and intellectuals, from Michael Kelly to Paul Berman to Andrew Sullivan, were on board with Bush. The silver foxes had enough history under their belt to recognize what a wrenching departure this optional pre-emptive war was from the past."

Scott Sherman, Nation 6.7.04

Monday, May 24, 2004

Enter right, exit left

Quoted 05.24.04:

Many of us in the class of 2004 grew up in the 1990's believing that America was a force for good in the world. We became conscious of international affairs at a time when the American military was intervening to stop genocide in the Balkans, fighting to distribute food to starving people in Somalia, and protecting democracy in Haiti. Even if these ventures weren't always successful, they were at least apparently selfless. Many of us reached the conclusion that the United States was wrong not when it intervened in the affairs of others, but when it sat on its hands, as it did in the case of Rwanda. It was only natural that we would apply that same logic to Iraq.

But that logic may not hold. As conditions in Iraq have grown more chaotic, many of us who supported the war are re-evaluating our positions.

Joshua Foer, New York Times 5.23.04, reg req'd

Punishment and amusement

Quoted 05.24.04:

Prisoners posed in three of the most infamous photographs of abuse to come out of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were not being softened up for interrogation by intelligence officers but instead were being punished for criminal acts or the amusement of their jailers, according to previously secret documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Scott Higham and Joe Stephens, Washington Post 5.22.04, reg req'd

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Why war has rules

Quoted 05.23.04:

Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer[Michael Walzer's book, Just and Unjust Wars] helped drag just-war theory, a tradition of thought beginning with St. Augustine almost 2,000 years ago, out of theology departments and into the mainstream of political science — and all the way to West Point, where the theory is now taught.

Arguing About War, Michael WalzerNow, some 30 years after [the Vietnam] war, Walzer has a new book, a collection of essays forthcoming in August that fills in some of the gaps in his thinking and applies his brand of moral reasoning to cases from Kosovo to Iraq. Proponents of just-war theory, he writes in Arguing About War (Yale), are still fighting on two fronts: "against those who will not think realistically about the defense of the country they live in and also against those who will not recognize the humanity of their opponents."

Christopher Shea, Boston Globe 5.23.04

Return of the tyrants

Quoted 05.23.04:

Totalitarianism died with the 20th century, argue some political scientists. Can a return to the ancient idea of tyranny help us understand the bad guys of the 21st?

Matthew Price, Boston Globe 5.23.04; see also "The new age of tyranny," Mark Lilla, New York Review of Books 10.24.02, sub req'd

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Scripture-based activism on the rise as 'Religious Left' strives for a comeback

Quoted 05.22.04:

"There is a renewed movement of Bible-based progressives, of people who take the moral code of Scripture very seriously and the values that are found there, and apply it," through activism, says Rose Berger, associate editor of Sojourners, a national magazine addressing faith, politics and culture.

This week, clergy members from across the country will gather in Cleveland for the first national meeting of the Clergy Leadership Network (CLN), a fledgling nonprofit that aims to serve as the left-of-center answer to the conservative and hugely successful Christian Coalition.

Lisa Marshall, Daily Camera 5.15.04, via Jesus Politics

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Broken engagement

Quoted 05.19.04:

Wesley ClarkThe strategy that won the Cold War could help bring democracy to the Middle East — if only the Bush hawks understood it.

Wesley Clark, Washington Monthly May 2004

100 artists see God

Quoted 05.19.04:

One hundred artists respond to one of art's most enduring challenges: picturing the divine.

Independent Curators International

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Unitarian group denied tax status

Quoted 05.18.04:

Unitarian Universalists have for decades presided over births, marriages and memorials. The church operates in every state, with more than 5,000 members in Texas alone.

But according to the office of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Denison Unitarian church isn't really a religious organization — at least for tax purposes. Its reasoning: the organization "does not have one system of belief."

R.A. Dyer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram 5.18.04, reg req'd

With a focus on news, New Yorker redefines itself

Quoted 05.18.04:

If anyone still thought of The New Yorker as just a stately literary magazine, the past few issues would have disabused them of that notion. For three weeks in a row, the magazine has published stories by [Seymour] Hersh that have brought wide attention to the abusive treatment of Iraqi prisoners. His stories have infuriated the Pentagon, inflamed Congress, and been the subject of Sunday-morning talk shows.

"The New Yorker, it seems to me, has risen to an occasion that has presented itself," said Rita Kirk Whillock, a communications professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "There are times when you're on fire. I think they're on fire."

Don Aucoin, Boston Globe 5.18.04

In Kerry veepstakes, Clark is the wildcard

Quoted 05.18.04:

Wesley Clark[Retired General Wesley K.] Clark has authored two books on modern warfare and worked closely with the allies America needs most. He could deliver what some Kerry supporters are seeking in a "dream ticket" with John S. McCain, Republican of Arizona: An image of two experienced warriors saddling up to rescue the country.

Peter S. Canellos, Boston Globe 5.18.04

Monday, May 17, 2004

Powell's interview is cut off

Quoted 05.17.04:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was abruptly cut off during an interview on Sunday on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" when one of his aides decided the interview had gone on long enough.

As Tim Russert, the program's host, began to ask his final question, the camera unexpectedly panned away from Mr. Powell, who was being interviewed in Jordan via a satellite link from Washington. In the confusion, Mr. Powell could be heard saying, "He's still asking me questions," to which a woman's voice answered, "No, he's not."

Mr. Powell, still off camera, said, "Tim, I'm sorry, I lost you," and added, "Emily, get out of the way." Mr. Russert, slightly irate, responded: "I think that was one of your staff, Mr. Secretary. I don't think that's appropriate." After a few seconds the camera returned to Mr. Powell and he finished the interview.

Courtney C. Radsch, New York Times 5.17.04, reg req'd

Friday, May 14, 2004

Turner's bogus photos

Quoted 05.14.04:

With no regard for truth or consequences, [Boston City Councilor Chuck] Turner unveiled graphic photographs at a Tuesday press conference, suggesting that the images portrayed the rape of Iraqi women by US soldiers. The display was an all-time low for a member of the City Council. . . .

Unsubstantiated charges are becoming common in Turner's repertoire. Last September he accused City Council President Michael Flaherty of "institutional racism" when Flaherty tried to steer council business toward local concerns and away from resolutions on the Iraq conflict. One year earlier, Turner suggested that a police officer, not a robbery suspect, might have shot a 3-year-old boy. Again, he offered no credible evidence.

Turner represents Roxbury and parts of the South End, one of Boston's poorer districts. He could be working to improve housing, education, and job opportunities for his constituents. Instead, he makes a mockery of his office by mounting a bogus photo exhibit with Sadiki Kambon, a black activist known for barring whites from Kwanzaa celebrations.

Editorial, Boston Globe 5.14.04

A series of errors on lewd images

Quoted 05.14.04:

"Our intent . . . was to bring some scrutiny to allegations" by Turner "specifically his claims that he had evidence of extensive abuse committed by US soldiers," says Metro Editor Carolyn Ryan. Instead, the photo seemed to give weight to his case.

Christine Chinlund, "The Ombudsman," Boston Globe 5.14.04

Councilors sign letter condemning colleague

Quoted 05.14.04:

Six of Boston's 13 city councilors signed a letter condemning Councilor Chuck Turner for holding a news conference this week in which he displayed sexually graphic photographs that he said depicted US soldiers raping Iraqi women.

Kevin Joy, Boston Globe 5.14.04

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The pro-war press breaks with Bush.

Quoted 05.13.04:

Jefferson Morley, 5.13.04

Episcopal diocese sets same-sex wedding ban

Quoted 05.13.04:

The Diocese of Massachusetts, meeting at a special convention in March, endorsed same-sex marriage, as the bishops did last fall. Scores of Episcopal priests have signed a declaration of support for same-sex marriage, the diocese was strongly supportive of the confirmation of a gay man as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, and an Episcopal parish in Cambridge, Christ Church, is hosting an interfaith rally in support of same-sex marriage Sunday night.

But the Episcopal bishops of Massachusetts, citing their allegiance to their national denomination, the Episcopal Church USA, and the global Anglican Communion, have concluded there is no room for same-sex marriage under church law. The Episcopal Church's constitution and canons declare that "Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman," and the same definition is cited in the rubric for weddings, as well as the catechism in the church's Book of Common Prayer.

The Episcopal bishops in Eastern Massachusetts have granted clergy here blanket authority to bless same-sex couples; they are only prohibiting clergy from "solemnizing" marriages, which they said includes the signing of marriage licenses.

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 5.13.04

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

How should secular liberals treat religious people?

Quoted 05.12.04:

There is an enormous difference between asking liberals to be religious (not what I'm doing) and asking them to stop ridiculing religious people. I know you think they're stupid, I know you want to be able to have your fun. But you're painting with such a broad brush that when you make fun of people who pray or find inspiration in religion, you aren't just tarring Bush & Co. You're hitting Hillary Clinton and John Lewis and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jimmy Carter as well. If you're going to criticize Bush's faith — and I think it's fair game — do it in an informed way. Otherwise you look intolerant and you make the party seem hostile to religion.

Amy Sullivan, Gadflyer 5.12.04; see also Getting Religion, Amy Sullivan, Blueprint 5.7.04

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The misunderestimated man

Quoted 05.11.04:

Bush may look like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration, he's something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool.

Jacob Weisberg, Slate 5.7.04

You're fired

Quoted 05.11.04:

[Sec. of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld's reaction to Abu Ghraib pales next to his responsibility for it. Consider the conditions at the prison: It didn't have enough guards, the guards it did have were poorly trained, and they were demoralized by repeated extensions of their tours of duty. Sound familiar? America's failure at Abu Ghraib—like its failure to secure Iraq's borders, stop post-war looting, and provide the security necessary for reconstruction—all stemmed, in part, from too few troops on the ground. And the United States had too few troops on the ground, in large part, because of Rumsfeld's determination to use Iraq as a showcase for the lean, high-tech U.S. military of tomorrow. In particular, the United States was woefully short of the specialized, noncombat troops you need to occupy and rebuild a country after a war—like prison guards. Yet, Rumsfeld never made training such troops a priority—in part, because he believed a grateful, compliant Iraq wouldn't need much nation-building. And, in part, because he considered such work unmanly and morale-sapping—better left to the wimpy pseudo-armies of Western Europe. (The ones that have largely stayed out of Iraq.) So Rumsfeld famously dismissed General Eric Shinseki's suggestion that the occupation might require "several hundred thousand" troops, and tried to shut down the Army War College's peacekeeping institute in the run-up to the largest peacekeeping operation in U.S. history. Of the many disasters that followed, one was Abu Ghraib.

Peter Beinart, New Republic 5.17.04

Monday, May 10, 2004

Time for Bush to see the realities of Iraq

Quoted 05.10.04:

This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts. Thinking is not the reiteration of bromides about how "all people yearn to live in freedom" (McClellan). And about how it is "cultural condescension" to doubt that some cultures have the requisite aptitudes for democracy (Bush). . . .

Being steadfast in defense of carefully considered convictions is a virtue. Being blankly incapable of distinguishing cherished hopes from disappointing facts, or of reassessing comforting doctrines in face of contrary evidence, is a crippling political vice.

George F. Will, Washington Post 5.4.04, reg req'd

Blogs colliding with traditional media.

Quoted 05.10.04:

Joanna Weiss, Boston Globe 5.10.04

The revolution will not be blogged.

Quoted 05.10.04:

George Packer, Mother Jones May/Jun 04

‘I dare you’: Madeleine L’Engle on God, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and aging well

Quoted 05.10.04:

What are you against?
Narrow-mindedness. I’m against people taking the Bible absolutely literally, rather than letting some of it be real fantasy, like Jonah. You know, the whole story of David is a novel . . . Faith is best expressed in story.

If the Bible is not literally true, does that mean we don’t need to take it seriously?
Oh no, you do, because it’s truth, not fact, and you have to take truth seriously even when it expands beyond the facts.

Melinda Henneberger, Newsweek Online 5.7.04

Saturday, May 8, 2004

Mistreatment of prisoners is called routine in U.S.

Quoted 05.08.04:

[T]he man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.

Fox Butterfield, New York Times 5.8.04, reg req'd

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Restoring our honor

Quoted 05.06.04:

We are in danger of losing something much more important than just the war in Iraq. We are in danger of losing America as an instrument of moral authority and inspiration in the world. I have never known a time in my life when America and its president were more hated around the world than today. . . .

This administration needs to undertake a total overhaul of its Iraq policy; otherwise, it is courting a total disaster for us all.

That overhaul needs to begin with President Bush firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — today, not tomorrow or next month, today.

Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times 5.6.04, reg req'd

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Blogs gain popularity among UUs.

Quoted 05.04.04:

Donald E. Skinner, UU World May/Jun 2004

The nightmare at Abu Ghraib

Quoted 05.04.04:

The American military made a strange and ill-starred decision when it chose to incarcerate Iraqis in Abu Ghraib, the prison that had become a byword for torture under Saddam Hussein and a symbol of everything the invasion of Iraq was supposed to end. As United States officials have known for months, some of the American soldiers brought their own version of sadism to the site. Now that the rest of the world knows as well, the Bush administration will have to do more than denounce the scandal as the work of a few bad apples.

Editorial, New York Times 5.3.04, reg req'd

Monday, May 3, 2004

God's country

Quoted 05.03.04:

America is the revival that never ends, the camp meeting that never fully adjourns. Jonathan Edwards, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Billy Graham, Jimmy Swaggart and — can it be? — Mel Gibson. Behold the evangelist with a thousand faces, steadily sermonizing through the ages. And yet, now and then, there's a spiritual surge that captures the public's and the media's attention and gives the impression that something new is brewing. God, though he's never been away, comes back, and amnesiac social observers watch in awe.

Walter Kirn, New York Times Magazine 5.2.04, reg req'd

Saturday, May 1, 2004

O'Malley writes an apology to women: Feminism remark, foot-washing cited

Quoted 05.01.04:

Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley apologized [Thursday] for upsetting women with his decision not to wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday and for his inclusion of feminism in a list of societal ills in a homily.

The apology — published in today's edition of The Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper — marked the first time in his nine months in office that O'Malley, who generally chooses his words with care and precision, has been forced to clarify his remarks. O'Malley acknowledged that he is being subjected to a level of scrutiny to which he is unaccustomed, writing that "being archbishop of Boston is like living in a fishbowl made out of magnifying glass" and that he is concerned that "some people seem determined to make our liturgical services a political battleground."

But O'Malley also went to some lengths to explain his meaning and justify his foot-washing practice, praising "Christian feminists" and professing his support not only for women in diocesan leadership but also for liturgical roles for women in worship.

He also pledged to seek guidance on whether he should wash women's feet; he said that in August, when he is scheduled to give an in-person status report on the archdiocese to the pope, he will ask the Vatican for clarification.

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 4.30.04