"To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?" -- C.S. Lewis

Friday, February 25, 2005

Health, Death & The Pope: I'm surprised to see Andrew Sullivan today taking shots at the Pope's handling of his own health situation:

Why is the Pope sending a signal that we should cling to life at all costs - and that this clinging represents some kind of moral achievement? Isn't there a moment at which the proper Christian approach to death is to let it come and be glad? Or put it another way: if the Pope is this desperate to stay alive, what hope is there for the rest of us?

I can only guess that Andrew doesn't know many, er, old people. The difference between the Pope and most others in the twilight of their lives is that the Pope lives under a microscope (granted, by choice).

But a hospital visit here and there isn't at all out of the ordinary for someone of advanced age. And there are lots of health problems that, when suffered by an older person, could turn deadly if left untreated. So it's not really fair to say the Pope is choosing to "cling to life" or is "desperate to stay alive," as if it's only by Darth Vader machinery that the Pope's old heart continues to pump. Thanks to his tracheotomy, he's breathing on his own, and reportedly joking with his doctors. So there's reason to believe--from this distance, anyway--that he still enjoys a certain quality of life.

I think the proper Christian approach to death is to leave it in God's hands. Seeking medical assistance for whatever ails you is perfectly reasonable; but, when God decides to take you home, no doctor is going to prevent it.

TV History: A prop from Seinfeld makes it to the Smithsonian.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Plaming the Times: The Wall Street Journal must have enjoyed publishing this:

...[E]very liberal newspaper in the country was calling for Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself and name a "special counsel," in the hope of nailing the Bush Administration official who had "leaked" the name of CIA analyst Valerie Plame. The idea that there might be some First Amendment equities at stake was overlooked amid the partisan frenzy, and in any case Mr. Novak was expendable because he was a conservative.

And now, unless NY Times reporter Judith Miller and Time reporter Matthew Cooper betray their own confidential sources, they may find themselves in jail for contempt of court. Surely it won't come to that, but it's certainly possible.

And, for this lengthy and needless distraction, we can all thank the partisan games of Joe Wilson.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Dubya Tapes: It's a relief to this heterosexual evangelical Christian to hear George W. Bush accuse certain politically active conservative Christians of "kicking gays":

Early on, though, Mr. [George W.] Bush appeared most worried that Christian conservatives would object to his determination not to criticize gay people. "I think he wants me to attack homosexuals," Mr. Bush said after meeting James Robison, a prominent evangelical minister in Texas.

But Mr. Bush said he did not intend to change his position. He said he told Mr. Robison: "Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?"

Later, he read aloud an aide's report from a convention of the Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: "This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It's hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however."

"This is an issue I have been trying to downplay," Mr. Bush said. "I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays."

Told that one conservative supporter was saying Mr. Bush had pledged not to hire gay people, Mr. Bush said sharply: "No, what I said was, I wouldn't fire gays."

Yes, it is hard to distinguish between what the far right calls the "homosexual agenda" and a fear of homosexuality in general. If the blurring isn't intentional, then someone over there needs to spend more time explaining why it isn't. Otherwise, observers will justly conclude that we are dealing with a swarming colony of bigots.

Meanwhile, who can blame less moderate opponents of Dubya for not getting too excited about this welcome manifestation of his compassionate conservatism? The lefty blogger Digby responds:

I don't pretend to know what animates Junior so much on the issue of gays, but something does. Clearly he's very uncomfortable with the intolerance so many in his party show on the issue. Indeed, these conversations show him to be more liberal on this issue than any other I can think of. And it's quite out of character.

But what does it matter when the asshole turned around and just ran a stealth campaign based entirely on homophobia?

True enough. Still, last October 26, Bush said he supported civil unions––just not gay marriage. And one gay conservative in particular, Andrew Sullivan, reservedly gave Dubya some rope on that count:

Who knows what to make of George W. Bush's statement today that he now favors civil unions for gay couples - although his party platform is against them. For what it's worth, I tend to think this is his real position, rather than a belated realization that his extremism on this matter has cost him many votes.

And so the Dubya Tapes story seems to vindicate Sullivan's qualified faith in Bush. But civil unions were wiped out in many states on November 2, and Bush sat by and watched––worshipping (passively?) at the altar of political expedience.

Intolerance II: In today's Post, three academics explain their hostile reactions to Lawrence Summers' comments about gender issues. It seems to me that their grievances have more to do with the media––and history itself––than with Summers.

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