Philocrites : Scrapbook : June 2004 Archive

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Debray's mysterious ways

Quoted 06.20.04:

God: An Itinerary “God: An Itinerary” (Verso) is a mostly respectful history of the notion of God in the West. Although [Régis] Debray doesn’t believe in God, in the book’s introduction he claims to be fascinated by “the meandering advance of His complications,” and berates his supposedly cultivated peers for their biblical illiteracy.

Joshua Glenn, Boston Globe 6.20.04

Unorthodox priest stays true to her calling

Quoted 06.20.04:

The Rev. I. Carter Heyward is ending her career just as it began, with a loud burst of disobedience.

Thirty years ago, in 1974, Heyward was a member of the so-called Philadelphia Eleven — 11 women who were ''irregularly" ordained as Episcopal priests even though the Episcopal Church at the time did not ordain women.

Now, as she prepares to retire, she is taking on her church again, this time by officiating at the marriage of a lesbian couple in violation of Bishop M. Thomas Shaw's ruling that the canons and constitution of the Episcopal Church preclude Episcopal priests from officiating at same-sex marriages.

Friday, June 18, 2004

New rites for Vt. civil unions: Episcopal bishop sees three-year trial period

Quoted 06.18.04:

Thomas Clark Ely / AP Photo[Vermont Bishop Thomas Clark] Ely, who said he has blessed the civil union of a gay Episcopal priest, said the Anglican Communion needs to recognize the ''context" in which Episcopalians live, and that in Vermont, that context is that civil unions for gays and lesbians have been legal for four years, and many gays and lesbians are active participants in the Episcopal Church. The lead plaintiff in the case that led to the creation of civil unions in Vermont is a lay Episcopalian who now serves as senior warden at the diocesan cathedral; the state representative who headed the legislative committee that oversaw the creation of civil unions is also an Episcopalian and now the chancellor of the Vermont diocese; and the Episcopal bishop at the time testified in favor of civil unions.

''I'm hoping that the local context in which we're doing our pastoral work is recognized — the context in Vermont is very different than the context in Nigeria, and I wouldn't presume to understand the cultural context of Nigeria, but I would respect the local culture and context in which that diocese operates," Ely said.

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 6.18.04

As producer of 'Saved!,' R.E.M's Stipe returns to religion theme

Quoted 06.18.04:

"I think that where we are right now, the 21st century . . . is going to prove a very difficult testing ground for organized religion and for people of faith," Stipe says. "A lot of the ideas that are still being held onto — I call them 'hangovers' — seem to be mid-century or even earlier. (They are) 19th-century, 20th-century ideas that are almost anachronistic in 2004.

"And so, if organized religion and people of faith want to continue into the 21st century, I think they kind of have to live in the times that we're living. You have to understand that the holy scripture is a very important part of my life, and my upbringing, and the culture that I came up through — but it's allegory."

Stipe characterizes contemporary American society as "facing a civil war." "We're living in a time where stem cell research is very, very key, and the idea of cloning is not some science fiction writer's dream of the future," he says, opining that people need to "start to talk, and discuss, and provoke thought about these things, and recognize that the time we're living in is not the same as it was 2,000 years ago. You can't take (scripture) literally. You can't be that literal with anything."

Phoebe Flowers [South Florida Sun-Sentinel], Boston Globe 6.18.04

Thursday, June 17, 2004

About 2,500 gay couples sought licenses in 1st week

Quoted 06.17.04:

The Globe survey found 265 communities with at least one same-sex couple applying. There were a total of 2,468 applications from same-sex couples.

The couples traveled from all over the nation, though not in the flood that some had expected. At least 164 out-of-state couples came to Massachusetts to get married, from 27 states and Washington, D.C. Nearly one-third hailed from New York, including 23 from New York City alone. Another third came from nearby New England states. The rest came from as far away as Alabama, Tennessee, California, and Washington state.

Christine MacDonald and Bill Dedman, Boston Globe 6.17.04

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Why liberals are turning on their favorite conservative

Quoted 06.16.04:

In [David] Brooks' ideal world, Americans should all reasonably discuss the war, reach a consensus that it's righteous, persuade Iraqis of same, and win. In real life, it is a much nastier business, and there is no consensus among Americans of either party about the morality of this war. In peace, Brooks' genial mockery and optimism are delightful. In wartime, they're a cheat.

David Plotz, Slate 6.14.04

It's share and share unalike

Quoted 06.16.04:

taxes.jpgIn 2000, to just pick a year, my family paid $8,797 in state taxes. . . .

Meanwhile, in that same year, a pretty good year for the economy and corporate profits, half of all the active corporations in Massachusetts, nearly 39,000 in all, each paid the minimum corporate tax, or $456. To continue: Ten of the state's 50 largest employers paid the $456 minimum tax that year, according to the state Department of Revenue. Of companies with sales of more than $10 million, 37 percent paid the minimum tax. And of companies with worldwide sales of more than $20 billion (that's right, $20 billion), one in 10 managed to pay just $456 in state tax.

So as a leading payer, it's my turn to whine: If my family is paying its share in taxes, should not Corporate Massachusetts do the same?

Steve Bailey, Boston Globe 6.16.04

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Meet Joe Blog

Quoted 06.15.04:

What makes blogs so effective? They're free. They catch people at work, at their desks, when they're alert and thinking and making decisions. Blogs are fresh and often seem to be miles ahead of the mainstream news. Bloggers put up new stuff every day, all day, and there are thousands of them. How are you going to keep anything secret from a thousand Russ Kicks? Blogs have voice and personality. They're human. They come to us not from some mediagenic anchorbot on an air-conditioned sound stage, but from an individual. They represent — no, they are — the voice of the little guy.

Lev Grossman, Time 6.13.04

Friday, June 11, 2004

Use of dogs to scare prisoners was authorized

Quoted 06.11.04:

U.S. intelligence personnel ordered military dog handlers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to use unmuzzled dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees during interrogations late last year, a plan approved by the highest-ranking military intelligence officer at the facility, according to sworn statements the handlers provided to military investigators.

A military intelligence interrogator also told investigators that two dog handlers at Abu Ghraib were "having a contest" to see how many detainees they could make involuntarily urinate out of fear of the dogs, according to the previously undisclosed statements obtained by The Washington Post.

The statements by the dog handlers provide the clearest indication yet that military intelligence personnel were deeply involved in tactics later deemed by a U.S. Army general to be "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses."

Josh White and Scott Higham, Washington Post 6.11.04, reg req'd

Ray Charles, legend of soul, dies

Quoted 06.11.04:

raycharles.jpgIn the pantheon of postwar American popular music, only Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra exceeded Mr. Charles in impact. No singer, it's safe to say, exceeded him in ability.

"He gave himself to every song he sang," Presley biographer Peter Guralnick said yesterday. "What was most remarkable about his work was the way he synthesized nearly every strand of the American musical tradition, and infused it with an individual passion and the unmistakable sound of his unique voice."

Mark Feeney, Boston Globe 6.11.04

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Godsend

Quoted 06.09.04:

For network television, "Joan of Arcadia" is almost shockingly intelligent.

Lee Siegel, New Republic Online 6.9.04, sub req'd

Sunday, June 6, 2004

Circling the wagons

Quoted 06.06.04:

As Donald Green, Bradley Palmquist and Eric Schickler argue in their book, Partisan Hearts and Minds, most people either inherit their party affiliations from their parents, or they form an attachment to one party or another early in adulthood. Few people switch parties once they hit middle age. Even major historic events like the world wars and the Watergate scandal do not cause large numbers of people to switch.

Moreover, Green, Palmquist and Schickler continue, people do not choose parties by comparing platforms and then figuring out where the nation's interests lie. Drawing on a vast range of data, these political scientists argue that party attachment is more like attachment to a religious denomination or a social club. People have stereotypes in their heads about what Democrats are like and what Republicans are like, and they gravitate toward the party made up of people like themselves.

Once they have formed an affiliation, people bend their philosophies and their perceptions of reality so they become more and more aligned with members of their political tribe.

David Brooks, New York Times 6.5.04, reg req'd

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Secularism gone awry in battle over LA's seal

Quoted 06.05.04:

Los Angeles County SealIf you look closely at the Los Angeles County official seal — preferably through a magnifying glass — you will see, among other things, a tiny image of a cross. But not for long. Last week the county Board of Supervisors voted to remove it under threat of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. . . .

Many Americans today believe that secularist forces in this country are implacably hostile to all things religious, particularly Christian, to the point of wanting to purge our culture and our history of all traces of Christianity.

This exaggerated perception is exploited by religious extremists who really would like to undo the separation of church and state — who believe, for instance, that same-sex civil marriage should be illegal because the Bible condemns homosexuality. When secularists go after a tiny cross on a county seal or Christmas decorations at a firehouse, they lend substance to the "religious persecution" complex — and play right into the extremists' hands.

Cathy Young, Boston Globe 6.5.04

Friday, June 4, 2004

Tough

Quoted 06.04.04:

The New RepublicOf course one's own dead mean more than the other's dead, but the other's dead cannot mean nothing. The primacy of the obligation to one's own, the natural solidarity of the same, the love that precedes principle: These fundamental attainments of human association should not be taken to suggest that moral consciousness is essentially tribal. Indeed, the knowledge of our own mystic bonds is what enables us to imagine the mystic bonds of others. Since we are particular in our affections and our affiliations, we can understand particularity of affection and affiliation in general. A general understanding of particularity: That is a fine definition of universalism, and there are no escapes from universalism, except willed ones.

Leon Wieseltier, New Republic 6.2.04

Are we prepared for the next 9/11?

Quoted 06.04.04:

The Madrid bombing resulted in a change of government, but a terrorist strike in the United States would most likely result in people rallying around the president, and Al Qaeda is well enough informed to know that. However, according to Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Center of the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrew's University, Scotland, Al Qaeda might prefer "regime maintenance." Iran and Syria, he said, would both favor regime change in the United States, fearing they might be next on the neocon list. That is why both countries have an incentive to keep the Iraq pot boiling. But Al Qaeda would be happy to see the current US policies stay in force because Iraq and the perceived American complicity in the injustice to the Palestinians have helped Al Qaeda's goal of making George Bush's war on terrorism a clash of civilizations.

H.D.S. Greenway, Boston Globe 6.4.04

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Episcopal bishop caught amid split over gay marriages

Quoted 06.03.04:

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw / Boston Globe"I have a longstanding reputation for supporting gay and lesbian rights, both in society and in the church, and I was surprised and delighted when the Supreme Judicial Court made its decision," [Episcopal Bishop M. Thomas] Shaw said. "But this is one place where the state is ahead of the life of the church. We haven’t, in the church, ever had any conversations [at the church’s general convention] about solemnizing marriages, and I really feel that, for the good of the whole community, we need to work through our conventions and the places where we form community in our church as away to go forward."

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 6.3.04

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

This Cosby show is undeserved

Quoted 06.01.04:

Though Cosby's comments were harsh, they are also right on target. And if some blacks are upset with the comedian, it's probably more for telling tales out of school — airing the community's dirty laundry — than for launching an unjust diatribe. Nothing Cosby said hasn't been uttered by other black people, but usually only among ourselves at dinner parties, on back porches, and in barbershops. Some might not be so bent out of shape if his remarks hadn't found their way into the mainstream media.

Renée Graham, Boston Globe 6.1.04