Among the eight players it includes is . . . you won’t expect this: Tim Tebow. He’s “a devout fundamentalist,” the paper explains, but “in the hedonistic world of the NFL, Tebow has stood out for being such a square. What other NFL quarterback, for instance, would proudly acknowledge he was still a virgin who was saving himself for marriage?” Speaks well of newspaper and player.
“Thin is the new luxury,” a real estate developer tells the writer. A couple decades ago, “The women looked after their weight, but the men were large,” he said, naming two very big menphysically and economically big, he meansfrom the eighties. “They could eat prodigious amounts of food. Their girth was considered powerful.”
Today, “old-school fat is considered slothful. Old school was prime rib, new school is parmesan-roasted kale. . . . Just like people used to frown on smoking, now they frown on bad eating.”
Count us old-school.
I was taught, as undoubtedly many of you were, to eat what your hosts give you and pretend to like it, no matter how vile it was. It was a way of honoring them for their kindness. It was just good manners. But the man whose belly is his god has no interest in good manners.
The writer asks his “ripped” friend if he feels embarrassed cooking his own food because he won’t eat his host’s. “I would never be embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for them and the way they eat.”
A little later, packing up his manuscripts, Ford happened to see “the page and the very commended phrase ‘old-eyed,’ and to notice that somehow in the rounds of fatigued retyping that used to precede a writer’s final sign-off on a book in the days before word processors, the original and rather dully hybridized ‘cold-eyed’ had somehow lost its ‘c’ and become ‘old-eyed,’ only nobody’d noticed since they both made a kind of sense.”
Mikics, a professor of English at the University of Houston, responds: Goldhagen “slips easily, and dangerously, from the ravings of one bishop to a claim, offered without a shred of evidence, that the Vatican remains secretly anti-Semitic, even when it speaks out against Jew-hatred. It’s hard not to feel that what Goldhagen does to the church is exactly what anti-Semites do to Jews.”
Palestinian suffering becomes (the phrase is Goldhagen’s) the “unifying symbol” for many people “who have never been troubled by oppression of Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria, or the fate of the world’s many other stateless peoples, like the Kurds, Tamils, Tibetans, or Chechens.”
After a few seconds of silence he recovered and said that the Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft, a frequent sight at Fenway and a man whose baseball passions are properly ordered, says that when he gets to heaven as he hopes to do, he will ask God two questions: Why did he allow evil and why did he favor the Yankees?
These are, of course, the same question.
It seems to us that the misuse of literally is a particularly bad example to choose, since the misused word has changed from one with a specific and useful meaning to a lazy way of emphasizing a point. The new use doesn’t gain us anything.
McWhorter himself gives an example from the vice president: “The American people literally stood on the brink of a new depression.” Biden’s literally doesn’t add anything to the sentence, even as emphasis, and worse, using the word this way makes the use of it temporarily ambiguous, until the reader figures out whether the writer meant literally literally, which he should not have to do.
It’s no more grammar snobbery to object to the sloppy and pointless mixing of meanings than it would be woodworking snobbery for a carpenter to object to an awl being used as a plane. We just like our tools to work right.
Undaunted, the commission, threatening the owners with a reported $75,000 in fines, insisted on putting them on trial for discriminating against women as a protected class. Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard reports that the commission folded right before the trial, after extracting a promise from the owners that they’d make clear on their signs that they didn’t discriminate on the grounds of sex etc.
It’s a kind of “I promise I don’t beat my wife and I promise I’ll never do it again” statement, but you can see why the owners accepted it. It was them against the state, and the state has a lot more time and money and who can trust the courts in this kind of case?
Commission chair Patricia L. Gattling said in her official statement that “Today, the NYC Commission on Human Rights settled the cases it had filed in August 2012 against seven businesses on Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn based on gender and religious discriminationthe posting of signs in the store windows that discriminated against women.” Then she explained that “representatives from the stores agreed that if they were to post new signs in their windows, they would say that while modest dress is appreciated, all individuals are welcome to enter the stores free from discrimination. The Commission is satisfied that the store owners understand their obligations under the NYC Human Rights Law.”
You will notice that Gattling presents the case as a victory for the commission and implies that the owners were and have admitted to being guilty. Contemptible.
The Fair Housing Act requires owners to make “reasonable accommodation” for disabled people’s needs but does not define “reasonable” beyond what “may be necessary” to give the disabled person “equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.” The Americans with Disabilities Act enforces the right to have service animals, but rules out “dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake, let her have the dog, is the normal reaction. She says she needs it, there are other dogs in the building, so don’t be so neurotic about the rules. But even ignoring the fact that she bought into a building whose rules she accepted and now wants to change the deal unilaterally, what, as the article itself notes, about other tenants who are allergic to dogs, or suffer from asthma, or are just scared of dogs, and who perhaps bought into the building partly for that reason? Don’t they have the right not to have a dog imposed on them?
And don’t the people who obey the rules that make co-operative life possible have the right to expect others to do so? What does it do to the trust needed for such enterprises when people can get the courts to change the rules everyone had agreed to?
We were not surprised to read in the New York Times, in an article by the editorial director of Le Monde, that when asked last May whether he was a social democrat or a socialist, French president François Hollande said, “You are asking me to say who I am. This is a tough question!” At a press conference in the middle of January, he “finally came out” (that’s the writer’s way of putting it), admitting, “I am a social democrat.”
If a French socialist isn’t a socialist, then, well, that’s one jig that’s completely up.
We’d say Randy used a scalpel rather than a hatchet, but in any case, the lead paragraph continues: “I take a small sip from the glass sitting beside my computer, which dwells upon a scored wooden writing desk. When I take the glass into my warm palm, it is cold and heavy. It is full of a clear liquid. It is water. It tastes of nothing, and everything. Before this first sip has entered me, I am reminded of a question, a memory, a truth: have I been reading a lot of Jhumpa Lahiri lately? The question is its own journey, its own answer.”
The list of most popular girls names tends to the classic, beginning with Sophia, Emma, Olivia, and Isabella, before making a slightly exotic turn to Mia and then Ava. The boys names (all but one are two syllables) are also all classic names, several Irish, before Jayden at number seven, but it’s followed by Ethan, Jacob, and Jack. The top three are Jackson, Aiden, and Liam.
The official list will be released by the Social Security Administration in May.
Sophia was the number one girl’s name, followed by Isabellathe number one name for the last three years, presumably thanks to the Twilight book and movie seriesEmma, Olivia, and Emily. Biblical names Sarah and Leah came in eighth and ninth.
Some more traditionalist conservatives may like the sound of this, but ought to remember that Worsthorne disliked conservative hero Margaret Thatcher, because (this is my summary but I think a fair one) she operated by principles, and that he’s in favor of same-sex marriage, because conservatives have to accommodate the times.
I’m not so inclined to trust the establishment’s instincts, and would suggest that the mixture or balance or melding of that kind of conservatism with rigorous political thinking was part of the genius of Irving Kristol and neoconservatism.
In the sense that only the sick man thinks much about health, it suggests many conservatives, religious and political, suspect or fear that their movement is weak, that its response to challenges is likely to be a slow waving of the hands and a fluttery sigh. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but we’ve banished the word from our pages.
I’m not so sure Francis is as naive as Rusty and many others think. As I wrote about Benedict, the press has a settled narrative through which it interprets the papacy. The pope can’t do much if anything to change it.
For Benedict, it began with the “God’s Rottweiler” nonsense and when that proved unusable because it was so clearly untrue, a new narrative developed, reaching maturity about five years into his papacy. The new story claimed that Benedict is old and feeble and an intellectual out of place, who just can’t run the Church. It’s the patronizing story, not the insulting one, and all the more effective because the writer who tells it usually feigns sympathy.
The press frames every story about Francis as a break with the rigidity, dogmatism, etc., of his predecessorsBenedict’s back in the doghouse, so to speakand the latest example of a new caring, open, pastoral (read: lenient) Catholicism. Whatever he says, with whatever qualifications he includes, that is the story the press will give the world.
Francis seems to understand this and decided to speak as he thinks he ought to speak, in the hope that over time his message will get out. It’s a risky strategy, but not a naive one.
Speaking of the enslaving culture of waste that “requires the elimination of human beings, especially if they are physically or socially weaker,” Francis insisted that “attention to human life in its totality has become a real priority of the Magisterium of the Church in recent years, particularly to the most defenseless, that is, the disabled, the sick, the unborn child, the child, the elderly who are life’s most defenseless.”
He continues: “Each child who is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who, even before he was born, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world.”
That’s not the story you’ll read in the major newspapers. It doesn’t fit the narrative. But we can’t complain that Francis hasn’t spoken clearly.
I am concerned by what seems to me a rather blithe dismissal by the global warmers of the human costs of their policies. As are some scientists.
Writing in a letter to the Spectator, a group of English scientists associated with the Global Warming Policy Foundation complains that in a meeting with scientists from the Royal Society, “The Royal Society team claimed to know little about the economic costs and benefits of climate change and climate policy” and yet Sir Brian Hoskins, the team’s chairman, “suggests the impacts of climate change to be far graver than the impacts of rapid decarbonization . . . while wholly disregarding the much more certain human and economic costs of the policies he advocates.”
Members of the GWPF include MIT’s Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist, the economist David Henderson, and Richard Tol, a professor of the economics of climate change at the Free University of Amsterdam.
This, he explains, “is the world picture that red-staters get from Joel Osteen, blue-staters from Oprah, and everybody gets from our ‘God bless America’ civic religion. It’s Christian-ish but syncretistic; adaptable, easygoing and egalitarian. It doesn’t care whether the angel really appeared to Mary: the important thing is that a spiritual version of that visitation could happen to anyoneincluding you.”
This kind of religion “lacks the biblical picture’s resources and rigor, but it makes up for them in flexibility. A doctrine challenged by science can be abandoned; a commandment that clashes with modern attitudes ignored; the problem of evil washed away in a New Age bath.”
One can understand the appeal, because the good man’s moral passions last even when he has lost his faith in the supernatural, but as Douthat points out, “its cosmology does not harmonize at all with its moral picture.” This philosophy “proposes a purely physical and purposeless universe, inhabited by evolutionary accidents whose sense of self is probably illusory. And yet it then continues to insist on moral and political absolutes with all the vigor of a 17th-century New England preacher. And the rope bridges flung across this chasmthe scientific-sounding logic of utilitarianism, the Darwinian justifications for altruismtend to waft, gently, into a logical abyss.” In other words, these secularists cheat.
His writing influenced Pope Leo XIII and his encyclical Rerum Novarum . He was, Leo wrote, “our great predecessor.”
The latest issue of Participatio, the annual online journal of the T. F. ?Torrance Theological Fellowship, takes up Torrance’s relation to Orthodoxy. The volume includes a personal memoir by one of Torrance’s students, now an Orthodox priest; nine substantial papers on subjects like ?St. Athanasius and the rationality of the cosmos; a review of the letters between Torrance and Georges Florovsky; and two articles by Torrance himself, “The Relevance of Orthodoxy” and “The Orthodox Church in Great Britain.” See tftorrance.org.
The Catholic Artists Society is sponsoring a series of lectures on “the art of the beautiful” with the Dominican chaplains to New York University. The speakers have included Peter Cameron, editor of Magnificat, and Anthony Esolen, and their talks are available online. See catholicartistssociety.org.
And then there’s the Reformation 21 website, run by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and featuring our friend and writer Carl Trueman. See reformation21.org.
A little surprisingly, writes Carl, neither the arguments for nor against have changed. “Why is it that Francis Newman’s case seems so much more compelling today? The answer is that, of the two brothers, it was Francis, not John, who was the harbinger of the ‘church of the future’ as manifested in the wider mores of a society driven by sentiment, tastefulness, and the concomitant pragmatic and emotive ethics with which we are now sadly all too familiar.”
And then I thought: Suppose some day we accidentally spelled out a rude four-letter word? Now, after the magazine is laid out, one of the junior fellows reads through the magazine to make sure we haven’t accidentally made a word that will embarrass us. It’s a small thing, and probably paranoid, but here paranoia equals prudence.
while we’re at it sources: Yay Tebow: The Indypendent, January 20February 16, 2014. Trans*meaning: Ibid. Men Dieting & Eating Fuel: The New York Observer, January 21, 2014. Missing C: Granta 62 (November 1998). Too Literally: newrepublic.com, June 27, 2013. Contra Goldhagen: tablet.com, September 4, 2013. Pro-Goldhagen: Ibid. Hasidic rights: weeklystandard.com, January 21, 2014. Conflicting rights: observer.com, January 21, 2014. No socialist he: nytimes.com, January 19, 2014. CNN warning: cnn.com, January 23, 2014. Punctuation: vulture.com, January 16, 2014. Hatchetman Boyagoda: ft.com, September 6, 2013. Baby names national: m.livescience.com, December 5, 2013 & cbslocal.com, December 31, 2013. Baby name New York City: nydailynews.com, December 31, 2013 & observer.com, January 2, 2014. Worsthorne: The Spectator , 14 to 28 December 2013. Un-naive Francis: “While We’re At It,” August/September and October 2012. Un-naive Francis II: patheos.com/blogs/getreligion, January 14, 2014. Climate costs: The Spectator, 14 to 28 December 2013. The Spiritual: nytimes.com, December 21, 2014. The Secular: Ibid. Practical Kettler: Marvin L. Krier Mich’s Catholic Social Teaching and Movements , chapter one.
wwai tips: Mark Barrett, Mark Berner, Dana Gioia, Christopher Mills, Anna Sutherland.