Touchstone Magazine HomeHome
Touchstone's Editors on news & events of the day.with Patrick Henry ReardonOrder our publications...Speakers bureau, Chicago Lecture Series, and more...Browse back issues...All the information you need



Touchstone's editors on news and events of the day.

E-mail your comments

Saturday, May 31

OOPS:

Yet another reason to mistrust the press: they make really, really, really big mistakes. Eamon Duffy, a Catholic historian at Cambridge University, was quoted on FrontLine's website as saying that he had once been a believer but was now a skeptic who thought disbelieving in the Resurrection "makes life even better, makes this world a better place." As it turned out, FrontLine had mixed up his interview with an interview with the (boring) German theologian Gerd Ludemann. (The story appears here, but I could not get the link to work.)

Professor Duffy said: "I was appalled. I thought, have I been drinking?" He started to write letters of apology and prepared his resignation from the Pontifical Historical Commission.

It was only after he demanded a copy of the tape, and saw it for himself last week, that he realised that it was a case of mistaken identity.


After Richard John Neuhaus had mentioned the interview in First Things, Duffy contacted the show and

"they said they had checked the video and every word in the transcript I had said. I was appalled. I could not remember what I had said.

"I wrote to the Cardinal and to my bishop and various friends who had expressed distress, explaining it was not what I believed and I did not remember saying it but that it was on the tape."

. . . One of the worst things, Professor Duffy added, was that the interview ascribed to him was "intellectually flaccid".

He said: "It was not only the sort of thing I do not say, it was the sort of thing I am cruel to people for saying. I was not just horrified, I was embarrassed. It was absolute agony, and it has upset a lot of people."


5:45 AM


Wednesday, May 28

LITURGICAL PRIMITIVISM:

A new reflection on worship and liturgical "renewal" (ha!) by our contributing editor, the Evangelical Anglican theologian Peter Toon. An Anglo-Catholic priest I knew well once said to me, after listening to some liturgist, "'Primitive' is not a liturgical compliment."

Liturgy & the obsession with the Primitive Church of the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

By Peter Toon

What would the public Liturgy of the Anglican Communion of Churches and of the Roman Catholic Church had been like had there not been in the 1960s & 1970s an over-rating or what seems like an obsession with aspects of the primitive Church accompanied, simultaneously, by a low estimation of the Church of the medieval period?

Before the public acceptance of Christianity in the Roman Empire from the reign of Constantine the Great, the Church of Jesus Christ often faced persecution and had to make apology for her Faith in a hostile environment. Her worship was often conducted in secret and her converts were adults, some of whom brought along their families. There was a lot of adaptation to necessity and experiment to find ways of pleasing the Lord and edifying the flock. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church.

In this early period and well into the fourth century the Liturgy and Doctrine of the Church were subject to development and correction as the teaching of the Bible was proclaimed and explained. However, after AD 325 as the Church began to define dogma in councils, as she built houses of worship, as many more people flocked into her services, as she began to baptize many infants as well as adults, she adapted her developing Liturgies to incorporate the new situation with its positive and negative demands. By the fifth century or so we have fixed Liturgies in East and West.

As we look back, we can take the period before Constantine and see it as a golden age when the Church sought to proclaim the Gospel in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious context, where She was not favoured by rulers. Then we can see a similarity to our position in a post-Christian western culture and think that if we take some of the exciting things that the Church did say in the third century than we can make our own liturgy and life authentic.

At the same time we can see the period beginning in the fourth century and leading on into the early Middle Ages, as a time of compromise with the world, of the adaptation of Greek techniques to doctrine to make dogma, of the use of these dogmas in Liturgy, making it over intellectual or cerebral, of the excessive use of ceremonial, of the rise of patriarchalism and sexism in church life, and so on.

So, as archaeologists in search of treasures, we can go on digging expeditions into the third century and find all kinds of things that seem to be authentic and attractive, as well as appealing to what we see as the needs of the modern world.

And this is what happened - in general terms - to liturgists in the 1960s & 1970s as they became archaeologists in search of treasures. What did they find:

- primitive liturgy in the works of Hippolytus (and thus the modern obsession with the correct Shape of the Liturgy and especially of the Eucharist);
- primitive doctrine of God as Trinity and Jesus as God's Son in the works of Hippolytus and earlier teachers, e.g., Irenaeus and Justin (and thus the bypassing of classic dogma in much modern liturgy);
- the kiss of peace as part of the Eucharist (and thus the modern fascination with passing the peace);
- the unification of the Resurrection, Ascension and Descent of the Holy Ghost into one festival and kept for 50 days from Easter Day to Pentecost (and thus the modern commitment to "the great fifty days" and the calling of Sundays after Easter as Sundays of Easter);
- that Christians tended to stand to pray in normal Liturgy and especially in the Fifty Days (and thus the modern insistence on standing not kneeling in church);
- that "initiation" is complete in Baptism with chrismation (and thus the modern confusion over the worth and place of Confirmation and of children's Communion);
- that Easter Eve was a special time for Baptisms and for celebrating the Risen Lord (and thus the modern emphasis upon the recovery of a proper form of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day Liturgy); and so on.

What we have not usually been ready to admit is that our knowledge of the third century and of all these supposed treasures therein is often minimal and we know little about what really went on and how and why - that is, in comparison with what we know of what went on in the fifth and sixth centuries for example.

But, despite our limited knowledge, these archaeological treasures have been brought into the modern Church and presented to us as absolutely necessary to receive and incorporate if we are to be authentic Christians in a post-Christian age. And with them has usually come the context of liberal theology of their finders and interpreters. So, for example, the rites and ceremonies are given a new interpretation (or at least a modified interpretation) in their being transported from the primitive Church to the modern western Church.

For example, take the passing of the peace. In the ancient Church men and women usually sat in different parts of the house of worship. So movement between them was not easy or common. Further, the purpose was not a greeting but a getting right before God with anyone one might have offended before taking the Communion. Today in mixed congregations, with casual dress and loose public morals the passing of the peace is a different thing altogether!

To bring in these supposed treasures of the primitive Church, the modern Church has had to throw overboard many aspects of her inherited Liturgy, Dogma, Doctrine, Ritual, Ceremonial, Piety, Devotion and Discipline. Customs that had been in place for over a thousand years or more were abandoned in favour of the innovations.

It is true that the Church accumulates barnacles and dross as She passes through this evil age and it is also true that She needs regularly to be renewed and sometimes to be reformed. But to be asked to abandon much of her accumulated treasure and to replace it with a supposed new treasure from far off times is to ask a lot, too much in fact. It is not renewal or reformation as such but an obsession with novelty and supposed primitive forms. We need to be renewed by scriptural doctrine applied to our lives.

In the 1960s, because of the secular forces of Zeitgeist in culture and churches, because of the obsession with the idea that the primitive is always better than the developed form, and because of the low valuation of the achievements of the Middle Ages, as well as other factors, much that was precious, good, holy and true was set aside and abandoned in favour of the novelty of supposed ancient ways and customs.

Roman Catholics are increasingly feeling this great loss and are calling for and seeing the return of the classic Latin Mass and other things with it. Likewise in the Anglican Churches Generation X is looking for something better than they have been given and there is fresh interest in classical liturgy, hymns, and the like.

But it is easier to pull down than to build up. It is easier to tear a cloth than to weave it. It will take time for the Church in the West to recover much of her heritage that she has lost, or left behind, or is too blind to see, or too secularised to appreciate.


For more writings of Peter's, see the website of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor, the parish church of which he is vicar, and the website of the American Prayer Book Society. You can order his latest book, Neither Archaic nor Obsolete. The English Language of Common Prayer and Public Worship, written with Louis Tarsitano (an associate editor of Touchstone), at the Anglican Market Place.


11:49 AM


MATTINGLY ON GOD-TALK:

Speaking of Terry Mattingly (next blog), I should remind readers about his website, with his columns and other articles. It also lets you sign up to get his weekly religion column for the Scripps-Howard News Service before they appear in print.

In his latest column, "God-talk after The Matrix, part II", he describes the explosion of interest in religious books in the last decade - a reported growth of 500% in a few years - but then notes that this does not mean that people were rediscovering traditional Christianity (or traditional Buddhism, for that matter).

These seekers didn't buy into doctrines and denominations. They didn't want "theology." They wanted new ideas, images and spiritual stories. They wanted what [religion writer Phyllis] Tickle began calling "God-talk" and millions started finding it with the help of cappuccino and Oprah.

. . . "God-talk" thrives far from most pulpits. Its standards are flexible, evolving, user-defined and rooted in small communities. This is a true "democratization of theology," she said, and can been seen as an extension of Protestantism's division into thousands and thousands of independent denominations, movements and churches.


Tickle traces the beginning of this trend to "the generic God of Alcoholics Anonymous" and "self-help" books, which is now expressed in "the nearly generic God of "Touched By An Angel" and increasingly movies like the hugely successful The Matrix and its recently released successor The Matrix Reloaded. Movies like this, according to a professor at Wake Forest University, James Ford, writing in The Journal of Religion and Film,

offer a powerful fusion of themes from Buddhism, clashing brands of Christianity, Greek mythology, cyber-culture and legions of other sources.

. . ."But epic films like The Matrix are the modern-day equivalent of The Iliad-Odyssey . . . or various biblical myths. Indeed, one might well argue that popular films like 'The Matrix' and 'Star Wars' carry more influence among young adults than the traditional religious myths of our culture."


I think this is true, and for the Christian a mixture of good news and bad news. The good news is that people are interested in spiritual matters after a long reign of materialism (e.g., the popularity in academia of marxism and the popularity in marxoid media of economic explanations of religion). Many secular people now see that this world is not enough, that its satisfactions leave you empty.

The bad news is that the spiritual matters most seem interested in are not coherent theologies related to any particular spirit or Spirit. Those who see that this world is not enough try to fill in the empty space with whatever idea meets their fancy, whether or not it contradicts the idea they adopted five minutes ago. And worse, they seem to adopt ideas that leave them great moral latitude, especially for their sexual lives. They are fond of "spiritualities" that leave their bodies to fend for themselves.

Some of my hipper Evangelical friends see this interest in spiritual matters as almost purely a good thing, but I am not nearly so sure. And not just because I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of guy. The Scriptures seem to take a fairly dim view of people who want to have God without morality.

The story of the rich young ruler seems to be a kind of paradigm or model for this: he was given the choice of following Jesus or keeping his property, not of following Jesus and keeping his property. He was not allowed to be "spiritual" without also being good.


11:41 AM


RELIGIOUS MOVIES EXPLAINED:

A useful-looking site I found mentioned in a recent column by religion writer Terry Mattingly: The Journal of Religion and Film, published on the web by the department of philosophy and religion of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Judging only from skimming of the site, it seems to be a mixture of useful articles mixed with articles written in that opaque, jargon-laded prose into which academics writing on popular culture tend to fall.

It did include an interesting review of Shadowlands, Richard Attenborough's movie about C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. The writer argues that it is an honest picture of Lewis' suffering and his struggle with his faith after the death of his wife. I do not know how accurate it is, not having seen the movie. (I hate to admit this.)

Also of interest is an an interview with Robert Duvall about religion in his movie The Apostle. It is an intentionally religious movie and one that took seriously the religious experience of Pentecostals.

We asked what Duvall thought about the value of the Pentecostal revivalist religions. In the movie's beginning, Sonny stops at an accident scene, finds a wrecked car, and a guy and girl lying motionless inside it. He reaches through a window, puts the girl's hand on the boy's, prays for them, and then her hand moves. Was there a message in that?

Duvall: "Definitely. When we did it, I said to the cameraman, ´Frame down to her.' And so we showed her, and I put her hand on her boyfriend's hand so we are all connected. And I wanted that look: her hand to move, to show that the power of prayer works. The healing of someone. The movement of something. God moving in mysterious ways. Exactly. This power is based on the biblical authority, ´Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there'. Every time I saw that I got goose pimples on my arms. That scene really tells a lot: that Sonny is doing good work and that the power of the Holy Ghost was there.

"Sonny knows he is serving the Lord. He walks back over to his own car, where his mother is waiting. ´Mama,' he says, ´we made news in heaven this morning, we made news in heaven!' Yeah, that scene was meant to be there. It was the power of the Holy Ghost.


The scene was one of those you might think fake or hokey, but then, how do you show God working in such a case without it looking fake or hokey? I admire Duvall for filming the story as it might have happened.


11:10 AM


THE NAIVE OLD:

From the OrthodoxyToday Blog, an interesting response to my blog on "Anonymous Liberals" (i.e., skeptical or liberal clergy who don't let their people know what they believe. The author writes:

I've noticed that older clergy don't quite understand how unstable the moral foundations of culture have become, and they have no real idea of the corrosive power of much liberal ideology. They essentially believe that the claims of compassion and tolerance and all the other appeals to virtue that moral deconstructionists employ can be believed. They have difficulty seeing these are ideological ploys.

Younger clergy are more committed in their liberalism or conservatism. They might have to keep some of their views under wraps, but the naive trust you find in older clergy just isn't there.


10:55 AM


Tuesday, May 27

UNINTENDED MEANINGS:

The Anglican primates (the archbishops of the national churches) have just finished a meeting and issued a closing statement. It begins with that weirdly self-centered prose typical of the statements of Anglican bishops, in which nothing seems to happen unless they saw it. (The first seven paragraphs begin with "we.") It is not the way normal people speak, but maybe it's the fruit of a rhetorical wrong turn that has now become an established style.

It continues with the usual sorts of thing till it gets to the question of homosexuality.

The question of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury
spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex
unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.


As I have written before, mostly in the "Letter from America" I used to write for the English magazine New Directions, this is the not the way a Christian body speaks. The moral status of homsexuality is not something about which the Christian tradition is the least bit unclear, and homosexual acts not something that could possibly be approved through a development of doctrine.

A Christian body would not have simply said they have "no theological consensus" in favor of the innovation as if such a consensus would justify it. Imagine a council composed of St. Augustine and his peers or of Luther, Calvin, Erasmus and their peers, or for that matter one of about 1960 composed of C. S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, William Temple, Billy Graham, Pope Pius XII, Karl Barth, Hans urs von Balthasar, and the Patriarch of Constantinople. Not one would have included this paragraph or thought it one they could offer, because it treats as a possibility something the Christian tradition treats as an impossibility.

I understand that a bunch of bishops who do not agree will want to say something broad and undivisive (though they're still guilty if they do). But what they really ought to understand is that what one says implicitly and what one says by exclusion matter. Broad statements have a meaning, and it is a narrow not a broad meaning. In this case, the Anglican primates' broad statement's narrow meaning is that: People, homosexuality might just turn out to be okay after all.


12:44 PM


PARENTAL GUIDANCE REQUIRED:

Something useful for parents from Friday's issue of The Wall Street Journal: 'May I?' and 'The Matrix': Why my kids won't be seeing the latest R-rated blockbuster by Dale Buss. He notes that the movie "The Matrix Reloaded" did not do quite as well as expected, given its predecessor's success and all the publicity it's received, because it had an earned R-rating, given for

a gratuitous scene near the beginning of this video game - er, movie - that intercuts a paganistic orgy with private, full-flesh sex between the hero and heroine, Neo and Trinity, complete with pulsating drums in the background.

. . . The Dionysian vignette from "The Matrix Reloaded" - a version of what the Israelites were doing in "The Ten Commandments" before Moses came down from Mount Sinai - is bad enough in itself, but it's even more affrontive for being kicked off with a quasi-prayer, part of the alleged spiritual depth of the movie.


As you might expect, no one thought to warn the viewers that the movie included a scene guaranteed - and calculated? - to put stimulating images into the minds of the testosterone-poisoned teenage boys to whom the movie appeals.

Naturally, nothing in the limitless pre-opening PR for "The Matrix Reloaded" hinted at this razor blade in the apple. So it caught many parents unawares. I don't remember its being mentioned in the Time cover story, or in the new Heineken ad where Trinity goes airborne in the interest of serving up a couple of cold ones.

The ratings system was supposed to help in all this, but the cultural trend runs against firm judgments. PG-13 can mean R, and R movies are marketed to younger teens ferociously.


As the father of teenagers (a girl now 17 and a boy now 14), I have found the ratings of only partial use. The 14-year-old cannot watch R movies under any circumstance, because they are either too violent and therefore desensitizing or too sexual and therefore both desensitizing and arousing.

But equally, he cannot watch some PG-13 and even PG movies because they are nearly as bad, or worse because more subtle. The PG-13 sight of girls in tiny bathing suits induces lust just as effectively as the R sight of the same girls without the tops of said bathing suits. If anything, the PG-13 sight may induce it more effectively because it stimulates the imagination, which promises delights the reality can never deliver.

Buss discusses the problem of saying no to children whose friends have all seen the movie you reject. I have found to my dismay that many conservative Christian parents will let their children watch movies they should not see, which makes the wise parents' job even harder.

I don't suppose there is any good answer, in the sense of an answer the average child will accept gladly. All you can do is to raised your children so that they know you care for their good and feel responsible to God for forming them rightly, and give them repeated explanations of the power of images and the sort of boy or girl - eventually man or woman - you must help them become.

"Puritanism" does not work. Simply telling them that some things are bad is too purely negative to help a child accept the fact that he will be different from his friends and peers. You have to give them some idea of the good man or woman they can become, so that they see, as much as a child can, how not watching a bad movie helps train them to be something they want to be, as not eating milkshakes and french fries helps trains the athelete to run and jump and win.


9:29 AM


POSTMODERN PRESUMPTIONS:

In "Shakespeare and the Spice Girls", Steven Lagerfeld comments on a new book called Clueless in Academe by Gerald Graff, "a leading partisan of postmodern literary theory." Lagerfeld, the editor of The Wilson Quarterly, notes that Graff

is passionately worried about the alienation of so many college students from arguments and ideas. He believes that without an understanding of how to make an argument - what Mr. Graff calls "Arguespeak" - they won't be good students or, more important, good citizens: "Precisely due to the increasing saturation of both the media and the academy with power talk about hidden meanings [e.g., of texts and trends], it seems more important than ever that schools and colleges train citizens who can detect the difference between genuine versions of such talk and pseudo-intellectual blather, and who can convey their judgments persuasively."

So far, so good. But Graff goes on, Lagerfeld writes, to say that students should be taught to argue rather than given what he dismisses as "quiz show information," meaning learning names and dates and mastering important texts and stuff like that. He believes the university to be a place of "paradigm-smashing, boundary-crossing, high-wire interdisciplinary scholarship" and "big-picture ideas."

(Lagerfeld mentions his own experience as an editor of academic works and says that he has seen no evidence of the new lucidity Graff claims to see. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear people like Mr. Graff propose that university professors play a bigger role in teaching the young how to write," Lagerfeld writes and I know exactly what he means.)

Graff argues, in Lagerfeld's summary:

Never mind Shakespeare, let's get to the critics. Is Shakespeare criticism too boring, too irrelevant? Teach the criticism of the Spice Girls then - anything that piques students' interest and draws them into the critical palaver. Along the way, he believes, we need to abandon the notion that the university represents something apart from the culture in which it resides: "The university is itself popular culture," Mr. Graff writes, and it's foolish to insist on any kind of separation.

One wishes that Mr. Graff, who clearly wants so much for his students, would want even more for them - like the basic knowledge that would add some substance to the arguments they are attempting to make. (How many can say when the Civil War was fought?) And one wishes that he would face up to the vacuities of the critical theory he defends.


I think this is exactly right, but the origins of this idea - of teaching a skill without teaching the content on which the student will exercise his skill - goes back several decades, and was a bad habit of teachers long before any of them had heard the word "postmodern." I remember getting this in high school classes thirty years ago and always feeling I was being asked to lie.

In "social studies," for example, being assigned five-page papers on the origins and causes of the First World War, a subject about which learned historians argue like cats and dogs. "I don't know enough to say anything," I always thought, but when I said this to my teachers was told "Just do your best." Being a verbally adept child, I could knock out a paper that satisfied them, but being a badly taught child, not one that satisfied me.

Now, as someone who makes his living writing and editing, I see that I was greatly cheated by this kind of teaching, because it did not even teach me to argue well. I felt frustrated because I was being asked to make bricks, not only without straw, but without clay. One can only argue well if one has the data to argue about and with.

The craft of writing, and the joy of writing, come from what you can do with the materials you have, especially from the mastery of the materials and of the forms through which you will try to convey them to another mind. The craftsman loves the problem because the problem lets him truly practice his craft. Remove the problem and you take away the real craftsman's joy in his work. Remove the problem and you let lots of people who care not for the craft hang the craftsman's sign outside their shop, though the things they make and sell are cheap, shoddy, and ephemeral.

"Postmodernism" has only added a theoretical reason for teaching children techniques without knowledge. What this kind of education has done is not only made its victims ignorant of many things they ought to know, but robbed them of the real joy of intellectual creation. It has left them with the illusory pleasure of being "intellectuals."


9:00 AM


Monday, May 26

THE MEANING AND BEAUTY OF OUR HUMANITY:

A new reflection on liturgical revision - not, usually, "reform" in the usual sense - by our contributing editor, the Evangelical Anglican scholar Peter Toon:

In the Preface to the main volume of Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, the new Directory of Services for this ancient Church, we read this paragraph.

<< The services provided here are rich and varied. This reflects the multiplicity of contexts in which worship is offered today. They encourage an imaginative engagement in worship, opening the way for people in varied circumstances of their lives to experience the love of God in Jesus Christ in the life and power of the Holy Spirit. In the worship of God the full meaning and beauty of our humanity is consummated and our lives are opened to the promise God makes for all creation è to transform and renew it in love and goodness. >>

Here several claims are made and a theology of worship is briefly stated. One claim is that the services are "rich and varied". They are certainly varied but whether they are rich in style and content is a matter of judgment. Another claim is that each and all of them, those in traditional and those in contemporary language "encourage an imaginative engagement in worship".

It is difficult to see why the imagination is particularly singled out, and not say human reason. Human beings are so different. Some are drawn into worship through the kindling of their emotions and affections, some through their imagination, some through the contemplation of their minds and some through the determination of their wills.

The theology of worship expressed here is stated in such a way that it is not easy to ascertain precisely what is in mind. And those who composed the sentences seem not themselves to know what it means (when I asked them).

At first sight - at least through the eyes of the orthodox Anglican - it appears to be pointing to the beatific vision of the age to come. However, on closer examination, it is referring to something less, some experience attainable in this life through the use of
Common Worship services. It may be observed that for orthodox theology the "full meaning and beauty of our humanity" are only seen and known in the perfected humanity of the resurrected and exalted Incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, through, by and in whom the faithful people of God approach the Father of glory in adoration and praise. Thus only as sanctified and redeemed by him and in union with him can sinful human beings begin to see the beauty of our humanity as it is shines forth in the One who is the new and glorified Adam, even Jesus the Christ.

Perhaps an attempt is being made here to relate a theology of creation (which has been a popular theme in recent times) to a theology of worship and because compressed into a few lines, the meaning intended is not conveyed clearly. It is certainly not an expression of the theology of worship of The Book of Common Prayer or of The Articles of Religion, the formularies of the Church. Why I say this is because it seems to be making positive assertions about the future of the present sinful world/creation and this runs contrary to the traditional doctrine of the last judgment and the passing away of the present world before the arrival of "the new creation" of "the new heavens and the new earth".

"To consummate" is to bring to completion, to accomplish, to fulfil and to bring to perfection. It is surely only in the worship of heaven itself that what we are as human beings in relation to God, our Creator and Redeemer, is brought to perfection and completion.

In fact, one of the disappointing things about the multi-volume Common Worship is that it does not contain a coherent definition or consistent theology of worship. There are all kinds of hints and suggestions (emanating perhaps from the multiple hands and diverse sources of its origins and composition) but no overall clear statement.

This is odd because one cannot but note that "the journey" is very much a dominating image underlying the structure and theme of many of the services. So much so that I have called my forthcoming [Sept 03] book, which examines this multi-volume provision, by the title,
Common Worship Considered: A liturgical journey examined (www.edgewaysbooks.com [ISBN 0 907839 78 9]).


9:35 AM


FAMOUS NEW POETS:

From the May 23rd issue of The Wall Street Journal's ever-amusing "OpinionJournal":

"France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, is to publish an 800-page book on poetry, essays and profiles and criticism of poets he admires," London's Telegraph reports. "In Praise of Those Who Stole the Fire," which to be published next Friday, is the pompous Paris panjandrum's "grandest literary effort to date." A Telegraph editorial http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/05/23/dl2303.xml previews it and adds a review of just under 20 words:

*** QUOTE ***

Here is an extract from his preface: "This eulogy owes nothing to artifice or chance. It has ripened inside me since childhood. From the bottom of my pockets, stuck to the back of my smock, hidden in the corner of abacuses, poetry gushed out . . ."

Perhaps it is as well for all that this obviously dangerous lunatic kept out of the war in Iraq.

*** END QUOTE ***

Meanwhile, Rep. Major Owens, a Brooklyn, N.Y., Democrat, has written a rap lyric called "Shock and Awe." It appears, in PDF format, in the Congressional Record http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getpage.cgi?dbname=2003_record&page=E1036&position=all . Excerpt:

*** QUOTE ***

O say can you hear
Like hysterical chickens
Enemy families scrambling
With their foreign fear.
Target with the drone
Then melt the ancient stone;

Ignore the pope
Burn infant hope.
Apologize for the human stew;

Brains fried
Glands crisp dried
Ears toasted
Thighs roasted
Blood and skin
For savage sausage
Barbecue ageing sages
Too old to flee

*** END QUOTE ***

One good thing about gerrymandering: It ensures that Major Owens can keep his day job.


9:29 AM




For previous blogs, click here.


Home - Mere Comments - Daily Reflections - Store - Speakers & Conferences - Archives - Contact Us

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?