Friday, September 28, 2007

Giuliani An Offensive Hypocrite

Okay, it isn't exactly news. But click the link for the most recent evidence. Here's a recap:

Thrice-divorced (and at least thrice-adulterous) Giuliani gets a lot of scrutiny from religious types. So in an interview with the Christian Boradcasting Network, he goes (surprise!) on the offensive. He protests that "there are a lot of people who are very judgmental," and says "I'm guided, very often, by 'judge not lest you be judged.'"

Okay, now, this is just weird. As New Yorkers know, Giuliani is the most judgmental human being on the face of the planet earth, saving only -- maybe -- a couple of extremist mullahs. This is the guy who tried to evict one of America's most prestigious art museums because he didn't like one of their paintings. His governing style was to war on everybody from the squeegee-wielding homeless guys to welfare mothers. His former politcal ally, and predecessor as mayor, wrote a book called simply "Giuliani: Nasty Man."

So, umm, at least he knows what he's talking about when he says that there are judgmental people in the world.

Giuliani then goes on to talk about his theological study in college, and how "it's an area I know really, really well academically." Hmn. We at the Egg have a pretty fair book-reading knowledge of military strategy, but doubt it would do us much good in a firefight. For that mater, we've read all the Jack Reacher novels, but they haven't made us taller, stronger or more cunning.

See, Rudy, the deal with theology -- and specifically with moral theology -- is that you can't just read about it. You have to live it. "Justification by faith" isn't about cheap grace, old pal. Or didn't they teach Bonhoeffer at your college?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

GOP Candidates to Black Americans: "Drop Dead."

All four leading Republican candidates had somewhere else to be, rather than take part in a forum on African-American issues hosted by PBS's Tavis Smiley.

This is despicable, of course. It is bad for the Republicans. It would be worse, of course, if they had any realistic chance of winning over any any black voters except Alan Keyes. Maybe. It would be a lot worse if they hadn't already worked out a gentelemen's agreement with Diebold, to make sure that no black votes get counted in 2008. Also no Muslim votes, no Hispanic votes except in Florida, no Jewish votes over 60, and no northeastern votes except the Romney clan.

Episcopalians Cave; Nigerians Spit in Their Face

Well, friends, we blew it.

The Egg predicted, with great solemnity, that neither side in the Anglican standoff would budge in regard to the Global South ultimatum, and that as September ended, the Anglican Commnunion would cease to exist.

We were so sure of ourselves! After all, we reasoned, for the Americans it was a matter of survival. They have so many gay priests and lay members, as well as so many priests and members committed to the full participation of gay people in the church, that if they were suddenly to change course, there would be an open revolt. At the same time, we reasoned, the Africans won't back down -- their bishops are suddenly leaders on the world scene, exercising power (both persuasive and judicatory) in the mighty United States. The rush must be awesome.

But got it wrong. The Americans caved, and agreed, at least for now, to cease ordaining gay bishops. (Tough news for the Diocese of Chicago). They also agreed not to authorize same-sex union ceremoines, although it is widely anticipated that unauthorized services will continue.

This was a tough call by the Episcopalians. The Presiding Bishop called the actions "sacrificial," and it must certainly feel that way. In order to preserve the unity of the Communion, they sacrificed some of their deeply-held and strongly-defended convictions. Some will argue that they sacrificed the commitments they had made to a generation of churchgoers.

So how do their sisters and brothers worldwide react? Well, there's no doubt a sigh of relief in Canterbury. And you might expect a series a politely-worded communiques from Africa, saying things like "we honor our beloved brothers and sisters in America for having the courage to make a difficult decision, and for having chosen unity." Or something like that.

But you'd be as wrong as we were, friends. Because Archbishop-elect Kwashi of Jos province, in Nigeria, not even ordained himself as yet, could not wait to hold a p[ress conference and declare that "The statement by the US Episcopal bishops should be taken with extreme caution."

How gentlemanly. Not to say how ... Christian.

The slap in the face extends beyond media grandstanding. Archbishop Akinola still intends to consecrate missionary bishops for America, despite the strong objection of Americans that this is an incursion into their territory. Kwashi defends this, saying, "We do not need anybody's permission to preach the gospel . . . When the missionaries came to Africa, they did not get our permission before they arrived. Today, we (Africans) only need visas to get to US, to preach God's word."

Spare us, your grace. Yes, we know that the history of missions is closely linked to the history of colonialism, and that you can play on the heartstrings of affronted Africans and guilty Western liberals alike by allunding to it. But the situations are radically different. There were no Anglicans in Nigeria when the missionaries arrived. And whether you like it or not -- whether in your heart you believe it or not -- there are Anglicans in America right now. So the African missionary bishops are doing something that the English ones did not do: attempting to usurp the dioceses of fellow-Anglicans.

Not bloody sporting, is it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Iran is Paradise

... for the Republicans. You know why? They don't have any homosexuals there.

We know this because President Ahmadinejad said so in a speech at Columbia, provoking gales of laughter from cynical college students. And what made the laughter cynical? The fact that he said this in response to a question about the recent execution of two gay Iranians.

For more on how the Islamic Republic treats its nonexistent gay people -- including pictures of a torture victim -- cut and paste this link into your browser window:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Anglican Communion: RIP?

It may be over at the end of the month. Click the link for a modestly-worded MSM description, or paste this link into your browser for a triumphalist shout from the Anglican right:

In this case, we think the triumphalists have probably got it, err, right. A formal schism has been coming for years, courtesy of the global south primates, led by Peter Akinola, a friend of freedom everywhere -- if by friend you mean "enemy." Rightly or wrongly (and we think wrongly), the PECUSA was given a deadline to formally abjure a set of convictions and practices to which it is clearly committed. The deadline will expire shortly, and there is no realistic hope of a change on either side of the table. Frankly, both parties have too much at stake.

An Episcopal Church that suddenly drew a hard line on gay issues would shrivel and die within months. People would leave in droves, an exodus compared to which the mild present schism would look irrelevant.

Meanwhile, the bishops of the developing world have simply never exercised the sort of power that this debate gives them. They are prominent as never before, their names in the news and their words attended closely by arrogant northern-hemishere types who never took them seriously.

Nobody will budge, and so, late next week, the worldwide Anglican Communion wil probably be a thing of the past.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bush Gives Evil a Bad Name

That is a delightful rhetorical jibe in Carlin Romano's piece on the language that political leaders have come to use when talking about terrorism (Chronicle of Higher Education).

Romano's complaint is that "official rhetoric after terrorist acts has become ethically neutral, merely strategic in tone and content." He offers some interesting speculation as to why this might be the case, but mainly he's expressing his irritation. He'd like to see more remarks on the order of Sarkozy's famous reference to French rioters as "scum." He believes -- probably correctly, to judge from Sarkozy's subsequent electoral victory -- that people would like to see more "stern moral judgment" from their elected leaders.

Er, um ... maybe. Gay people in the US already get an awful lot of stern moral judgment from politicos, especially during election cycles, for the precise reason that this is the rhetoric that wins elections. But does that make it wise?

In fact, as more and more anti-gay politicians are forced out of the closet (Craig, Foley ... can Santorum be far behind?), their use of this rhetoric to claim a supposed moral high ground looks both hypocritical and desperate. In the same way, for American leaders to call their opponents "monsters" even as they adopt certain monstrous practices of their own might set them up for an ugly rhetorical comeuppance.

Let's put it very simply. We all know that OBL, AQM, the Taliban and so forth are monsters, by any rational definition. But unless our government is willing (and able) to guarantee that there will be no more secret prisons, Abu Ghraibs, Gitmos, Hadithas, Mahmudiyas -- not to mention Plamegates -- then they really shouldn't be too aggressive about moralistic finger-wagging.

More simply still: glass houses.

Can Anything Good Come Out of Hoover?

Normally, we at the Egg don't spend much time on the Hoover Institution website. Right-wing think tanks don't interest us much, and Hoover's "scholars" are a pretty contemptible crowd of partisan hacks, with few real scholarly attainments.

But we made an exception for Tod Lindberg's essay on the Beatitudes, excerpted from a forthcoming book on the political philosophy of Jesus. Parts of the essay are pointless (Is Jesus "predicting" or "promising"? Ask me why I care). Much of it is humdrum, at least to people who read the work of real Biblical scholars (which Lindberg is not, and does not pretend to be). But the conclusion is worth quoting, and I would except that the Hoover Institute's crummy website won't let me cut-and-paste.

So click the link. And don't tell 'em who sent you.