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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Why We Like Bush Now

Don't get all huffy now. The Egg hasn't been wild about W., and isn't changing its position much. (We know the White House is heaving a sigh of disappointment).

But let's give the proverbial devil his due. On his recent swing through what the pre-PC crowd used to call the Orient, President Bush has been undiplomatically blunt in criticizing China's continued denial of human and civil rights to the Chinese, and especially of its religious oppression.

You know what? Good for him. Here's a story about
official government torture of eight "house church" members, as well as the kidnapping of a Beijing pastor. Here's one about a Tibetan monk who has been barred from coming home. And here's the latest on Falun Gong.

Mind you, it isn't just the Chinese.
Anastasia Yezhova has a theory that one reason Muslims settle in Europe -- apart from the grinding poverty of their homelands -- is that in Europe they are free to practice their religion. You heard me. It is easier to practice Islam in Europe than in all those "Islamic Republics" we keep reading about.

So, yes, I still think the President lied his way into a war, which he has since waged brutally but ineffectively. Yes, I think he has made absurdly bad political appointments, squandered the budget surplus, robbed from the poor to fatten the superrich, and -- yes, that old chestnut -- stolen one if not both elections. But there's no way around it: He's speaking truth to power on the question of religious freedom.

I may hate myself once I get sober, but ... You go, George.

Friday, November 18, 2005

In French, C'est "Polygamie."

Per the current official line out of the Elysee, the problem isn't unemployed, marginalized Muslim rioters. It's polygamy.

See, France doesn't believe in work -- so unemployment can't be a problem. It doesn't believe in minorities -- so marginalization can't be the problem. And it doesn't believe in religion, so -- well, you get the idea. In a nation that has worked hard to officially ignore the facts of life, the brutal evidence that those facts remain stubborn things requires some creative interpretation. But the people who brought us Jacques Derrida are up for the task.

Of course, as
Dhimmi Watch asks, "which major world religion promotes polygamy?" Hint: It's not Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Judaism, Taoism, Confucianism, or Shinto. (Watch out for the Jains, though. Rumor has it those pacifist vegetarians are up to something....)

Mind you, the French Left is outraged by all this talk, which it says will "reinforc[e] xenophobia and racism." And maybe they're right. Maybe polygamy is a basic human right -- or anyway, a civil right. And maybe
Fundamentalist Mormon Warren Jeffs isn't just the kind of sicko who "marries" a 16-year-old girl to an already-married adult man -- maybe he's a freedom fighter.


Strike up the "Marseillaise" and break out the kiddie porn, folks. It's gonna be a long night while the sleep of reason goes on breeding monsters.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Still, It Moves

Or so said Galileo, according to tradition, under his breath after an official recantation. And he was right; the earth does move around the sun.

So now Kansas (along with Ohio, Minnesota, New Mexico and maybe Pennsylvania)has decided to play Pope in the seemingly endless American road-show version of the same play, with Darwin as the understudy for Galileo. Kids in science class will now be taught the Intelligent Design party line, ratherthan ... oh, I dunno ... science.

Kansas calls it a victory for free speech. I call it a victory for the Counter-Reformation papacy -- that is, the desperate forces of reaction fighting their Pyrrhic battle against empiricism and modernity. But that's okay. Because still, it moves.

A Priest, a Rabbi, and the Prime Minister...

Britain is no haven for free speech (see under: libel laws). But in the LA Times, Michael McGough skewers Blair's recent proposal to effectively ban criticism of religions or their beliefs.

Best bit is a quote from gay columnist and erstwhile MP Matthew Parris, to the effect that the law might prevent him from criticizing the pope for excluding homosexuals from the priesthood. "To what kind of philosophical shambles can our Government have been reduced, when it promotes laws to criminalize me if I encourage hatred of such a Pope, yet looks away when such a Pope encourages hatred of me?"

The idea that jokes about "a priest, a rabbi and a minister" would be banned is Orwellian, but not utterly implausible. Especially if you throw in an imam, since -- reading between the lines -- the real bottom line here is the increasing danger (and ease) of pissing off unemployed, riot-and-assassination prone Muslims. Insult Roman Catholics, and you get a lecture from Bill Donohue at the Catholic League. Insult a Muslim in Europe these days, and you get the Theo van Gogh treatment. (Meanwhile, insult an Anglican, and he laughs along uncomfortably, to show you what a good sport he is. Poor buggers.)

McGough is less convincing when he addresses America's present confusion about public displays of religiosity. Oh, we're confused alright -- and badly. But our confusion isn't like the English kind. And to say any more about it would take a loooong post.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Happy Halloween

Anne Rice, Goth goddess, has traded in her vampire stories and bondage fairy tales for ... wait for it ... Jesus.

You already know the story, because it is so achingly familiar: she got sick, she got well, she turned her life over to God. All on the Road to Damascus. And now she's written a book about Jesus as a seven-year-old.

This could easily destroy her career. Imagine all those vampire fans screaming "it burns!" when they see a cross. On the other hand, it probably won't. First, although most religious novels are unbearable, you do find exceptions. Kirkus calls this one "riveting and reverent," two adjectives that are usually antonyms. They even compare her to seriously great modern writers like Nikos Kazantzakis and Shusako Endo.

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. Because -- and here's my second reason this book won't hurt her career -- Catholicism invented the Goth sensibility. You name it: the architecture, the candles, the superstition, and the constant tone of throttled eroticism. She can do this stuff from memory, and her people (I'm not one) slurp it up like blood from a virgin's throat.

Wow. The more I think about it, the more I think this may work. Somebody read the book and let me know.

Pastor Secretly Sells Church

The do things differently in California, I guess.

Read Andrew Sullivan

Father A. hasn't had much time for blogging lately. I blame parish duties, some teaching, and a head cold.

But Andrew Sullivan -- gay Catholic English Republican -- makes his living this way, so he's got all the time in the world. (As Satchmo sang in the saddest of all the .
Bond flicks). And people, the man has something to say.

Hadn't followed him in a while, so it came a shock this morning to see how much he has come to hate the Bush administration. Mostly it's the lying, secrecy, torture, and secret prisons. And then there's the anti-gay-marriage stuff. Oh, and Cheney thinking he's a king instead of an elected official