not of this world

Saturday, June 30, 2007

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Sir, Sir,
it is a pity you are not here with me,
you would understand everything.
the sea is all around,
we are destined to sail forever,
to live forever.

from Russian Ark

Friday, June 29, 2007


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the line that “bipartisanship” is the two party establishments ganging up to screw the American electorate comes to mind with increasing frequency these days…

Scott Rasmussen’s first law of politics is that America’s politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. That law was clearly demonstrated earlier today when the United States Senate finally surrendered to the American people on immigration…

The real mystery in all of this is why the Senators and their cheerleaders didn’t anticipate the public response. Perhaps they fell in love with their own rhetoric and forgot how it might sound to others…

Because the Senators and the White House never showed much enthusiasm for reducing illegal immigration, only 16% believed the Senate bill would accomplish that goal. Forty-one percent (41%) thought passage of the legislation would actually lead to more illegal immigration. In other words, even though voters consider the status quo unacceptable, they had every confidence that Congress could make a bad situation worse…

The United States is a nation of immigrants. It is also a nation of laws. Voters want to honor both aspects of the national heritage. And, like good parents trying to instill values in their children, voters want their elected representatives to do the same.

keep reading Immigration Bill Failure Proves Rasmussen’s First Law of Politics

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Gen-X Defense of Talk Radio

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sometimes you strike the muse, and sometimes the muse strikes you…
the guest op-ed I would submit if I had some place, time, and the clout:

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. – Thomas Jefferson, September 28, 1820

While most of my generation knows more than I about the American Idol finalists, current concert tours and the latest gaming trends, thanks to my dearly departed talk radio junkie father (who was also a physician, pilot, and scholar), I know more than they about current developments in Iran, free speech atrocities in Venezuela, the mind numbing legislative details of current bills working their way through Congress, and the Glorious Revolution and other newly released, vital non-fiction books that “feed an informed citizenry good,” to name just a few topics.
Yes, I am a Gen-X talk radio junky, and a well informed one at that, even a little uppity.

I confidently leave much of what can be said to full time columnists and opinion writers who are leveling fine critiques against the witch hunt currently brewing in the halls of Congress – by establishment Republicans as well as “free speech champion” Democrats - to restore “balance” and “fairness” to our airwaves by some all knowing, behind the curtain, mythically balanced, bureaucratic committee’s fiat. But I can’t resist fuming a few of my own amateur observations, especially as I do not fall into the typical category most critics consider to be the talk radio demographic (i.e. longtime NPR listening, SWF graduate student, Santa Cruz, CA native hippie with eclectic tastes, liberal friends, and independent leanings).

It seems the First Amendment has no lack of strenuous defenders when it comes to pornography, flag burning or artwork found offensive to Judeo-Christian sensibilities, but many of those same defenders seem themselves sorely lacking in intellectual honesty and consistency when it comes to the arena of some of our professional political class’s desires to forcibly foster, as Senator Feinstein put it, a “much more serious correct reporting to people.” (Fox News Sunday, June 24) Now, I’m not a seasoned Senator, but it doesn’t seem too nuanced a consideration that the protection of the citizenry from molestation that our founders enshrined in the First Amendment was instituted more with an eye towards their political speech rights than it was foresight and concern for the moral or immoral excesses of expression that naturally flourish within the privilege and responsibility of liberty.

Far from stifling dissent or shying away from challenges to their arguments, every one of the nationally syndicated hosts I regularly listen to, thanks to the effortless convenience of podcasting – Prager, Ingraham, Beck and Hewitt – actively seek out guests whom they disagree with, and bump to the head of the calls they take anyone who has a bone to pick, or correction to offer, regarding something they’ve said. The biggest obstacle they face with such attempts at self-policing balance is many potential guests’ unwillingness to come onto their programs to debate substantively those differences, or consternated callers spewing out angry, often unintelligible rants before hanging up in overt cowardice or impotence. Dennis Prager, who is as far from angry and hyperbolic dogmatization as you can find, repeats often his motto, “I prefer clarity over agreement.” It would appear that those who seek to monitor and dictate what and how Americans discuss the issues of the day nationally prefer content determined, governmental control (which does so well with everything else it touches…) over free market and choice based, time and reputation tested, intellectual merit. All criteria, by the way, which are key ingredients contributing to the strength and greatness of America throughout her history.

What is most irritating about the comments I’ve heard in recent days is the obvious factor that most if not all of talk radio’s critics don’t tune in themselves enough to discover that their criticisms of the majority of hosts hold absolutely no water, or what is worse, they know the falsehood of such charges and are engaging in the most shameless demogogary. It appears to be a phenomenon very much akin to those on the left who voice fears of fundamentalist Christians – which I, for the record, am not counted among. As has repeatedly come out in recent years, such fears more often than not are voiced by people who, when asked, admit that they don’t actually know any personally. Likewise, most of the august Senators who decry the deleterious affect on the national debate don’t know the first thing about which they speak. Their outcry is based, on the one hand, upon memos coming from leftist watchdog groups that monitor the airwaves day and night, furtively isolating comments in attempts to demonize the speakers, and on the other, upon the phonecalls, faxes and emails interfering with their personal and financial interest lobbied agendas. A free medium which makes possible a real national dialogue, one that calls them on their actions, follows up on their promises, catches them in their contradictory records, and rallies working private citizens by keeping them informed beyond what they would have the time for on their own, is not something they have any use or sympathy for in carrying out their calling as “public servants.”

In my current studies of Greek, coming across the roots of a word thrown around so mindlessly in our day recently gave me pause: democracy. From Demos, the people, and Kratos, power. The power of a democratic republic like ours rests with the people. However not just any people, but by design an educated, reflective, deliberative and participatory citizenry. Knowledge, as is often said, really is power, and talk radio has made possible an education of busy citizenry that is exerting its effect upon the incestuous power structures of Washington. While cable news offers mostly “tragedy T.V.” ad nauseum and five minute segment, sound bite serving, caricatured screaming matches, and network news and newspaper editorial boards a controlled window of carefully presented, agenda shaped stories, when large numbers of Americans would rather escape to fantasy gaming and “reality” entertainment totally divorced from the legion serious domestic and international issues that all of us will be forced to face sooner or later, the in-depth debate and gad-fly like relentless challenging conversation drawing millions of Americans every day into taking an interest in the duties of citizenship via talk radio is sounding alarms and passing on the torch of thoughtful deliberation and democratic dialogue that made such a “best last hope” as this nation possible in the first place.

While the Republican establishment is pushing their weight around to serve the interests of big business backers on the one hand, and the Democratic establishment scurrying around to ever enlarge a permanent victim underclass to insure their party’s electoral ambitions on the other, an ever growing, informed section of the American tax paying citizenry is making their voice heard and educating themselves on a daily basis, being The People that this nation was established by and for. Our Representatives work for us, their job is to speak for us, to legislate on behalf of the law abiding citizenry that elected them into office, not to enjoy an insular, out of touch permanent political class lifestyle that bristles at hearing from their constituents and seeks to monitor and regulate their political speech. That they are so arrogantly and insultingly attempting to stifle the “loud ones,” as Trent Lott put it, calling for legislative control of dissenting viewpoints through government monitoring of the airwaves, is the best argument that can be given for term limits in the Senate, and the best illustration of the sort of abuses that the First Amendment was truly established to guard against.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I would only ask my readers for that initial goodwill w/out which there can be no understanding

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Modern exegesis has brought to light the process of constant rereading that forged the words transmitted in the Bible into Scripture: Older texts are reappropriated, reinterpreted, and read with new eyes in new contexts. They become Scripture by being read anew, evolving in continuity with their original sense, tacitly corrected and given added depth and breadth of meaning. This is a process in which the word gradually unfolds its inner potentialities, already somehow present like seeds, but needing the challenge of new situations, new experiences and new sufferings, in order to open up… it is necessary to keep in mind that any human utterance of a certain weight contains more than the author may have been immediately aware of at the time. When a word transcends the moment in which it is spoken, it carries within itself a “deeper value.” This “deeper value” pertains most of all to words that have matured in the course of faith-history. For in this case the author is not simply speaking for himself on his own authority. He is speaking from the perspective of a common history that sustains him and that already implicitly contains the possibilities of its future, of the further stages of its journey.

…Neither the individual books of Holy Scripture nor the Scripture as a whole are simply a piece of literature. The Scripture emerged from within the heart of a living subject - the pilgrim People of God - and lives within this same subject. One could say that the books of Scripture involve three interacting subjects. First of all, there is the individual author or group of authors to whom we owe a particular scriptural text. But these authors are not autonomous writers in the modern sense; they form part of a collective subject, the “People of God,” from within whose heart and to whom they speak. Hence, this subject is actually the deeper “author” of the Scriptures, And yet likewise, this people does not exist alone; rather, it knows that it is led, and spoken to, by God himself, who - through men and their humanity - is at the deepest level the one speaking.

from the forward of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth

just cracking the surface of this already wonderful book, in the forward der Pabst gives a succinct and helpful overview of a project that he has contributed to over the years towards what he has called a “method C” hermeneutic in other places - that is, one which incorporates the best of what modern exigetical tools and historical-critical insights has to offer, while delineating and critiquing their limits along with their strengths, and folding their proper contributions into the larger picture found within the continuous faith tradition out of and within which the Scriptures have come down to modern man. with such vast extremes on both sides of the isle, with the textologists wanting to ignore the divine element, and the fundamentalists the human one, it is truly a great gift to the Christian world which in large numbers seems either to have their faith slip through the critical cracks, or walls it into a constricting irrationality by their denials of substantive modern historical-critical discoveries that require serious engagement with.

but he doesn’t give the strict textologists a pass by any means, as this passage that made me smile deftly illustrates:

As historical-critical scholorship advanced, it led to finer and finer distinctions between layers of tradition in the Gospels, beneath which the real object of faith - the figure [Gestalt] of Jesus - became increasingly obscured and blurred…If you read a number of these reconstructions one after the other, you see at once that far from uncovering an icon that has become obscurred over time, they are much more like photographs of their authors and the ideals they hold…

Friday, June 15, 2007

melting pot no mas

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Commencement weekend is hard to plan at the University of California, Los Angeles. The university now has so many separate identity-group graduations that scheduling them not to conflict with one another is a challenge. The women’s studies graduation and the Chicana/Chicano studies graduation are both set for 10 AM Saturday. The broader Hispanic graduation, “Raza,” is in near-conflict with the black graduation, which starts just an hour later.

Planning was easier before a new crop of ethnic groups pushed for inclusion. Students of Asian heritage were once content with the Asian–Pacific Islanders ceremony. But now there are separate Filipino and Vietnamese commencements, and some talk of a Cambodian one in the future. Years ago, UCLA sponsored an Iranian graduation, but the school’s commencement office couldn’t tell me if the event was still around. The entire Middle East may yet be a fertile source for UCLA commencements.

keep reading let the segregation commence

Thursday, June 14, 2007


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with since darkened
shimmering radiance
ebbing heavenward
(til morning’s reversal)
blend chanted aves
vigil resonant embrace
and release
murmuring sigh of palms
their clandestine caress
bespeaking benevolent
unharnessed dismissal
to the harried
heavy heat
of a thousand blind intentions
and rustling restless leaves
all too heavy
to bear but
borne graciously aloft
in borrowed vibrancy
for another evening
and morning
to come

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

hanson’s comprehensive smack-down

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Congressional supporters of the present legislation are themselves often engaging in politics of the most cynical kind. Rare “bipartisan” cooperation on the bill, which brought Sen. Trent Lott from Mississippi to the side of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is hardly statesmanship or a sudden outbreak of civic virtue. Rather, it is a new public face to the old alliance between profit-minded employers (and those who represent their interests) and demographically obsessed liberal and ethnic activists.

The former want assurances that there will be millions of aliens available to work at wages that Americans will not - with the ensuing medical, housing, schooling and legal costs subsidized by the taxpayer. The latter can’t wait for more constituents in need of group representation who, it is hoped, will someday support them at the polls.

Most cynical of all, however, are the moralistic pundits, academics and journalists who deplore the “nativism” of Americans they consider to be less-educated yokels. Yet their own jobs of writing, commenting, reporting and teaching are rarely threatened by cheaper illegal workers.

Few of these well-paid and highly educated people live in communities altered by huge influxes of illegal aliens. Their professed liberality about illegal immigration usually derives from seeing hardworking waiters, maids, nannies and gardeners commute to their upscale cities and suburbs to serve them well - and cheaply.

keep reading who is illiberal on immigration?

Monday, June 11, 2007

helena’s prayer to the magi

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…You are my especial patrons, and patrons of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation… of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents. Dear cousins pray for me, and for my poor overloaded son. May he, too, before the end find kneeling space in the straw. Pray for the great, lest they perish utterly. And pray for Lactantius and Marcias and the young poets of Treves and for the souls of my wild, blind ancestors; for their sly foe Odysseus and for the great Longinus.
For his sake who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for all the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten at the throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.

from Waugh’s Helena

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

live blogging the silly gop crowded debate

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never do this, but just can’t resist after watching the following:

guiliani was just asked what he thought about a Rhode Island Bishop recently saying that his position on abortion is like Pontius Pilate’s on Christ’s crucifixion, that he too thought it was wrong but allowed it to go forward anyway even though he had the power to stop the murder of an innocent.
when guliani began to reply, lightning strikes (that hitherto had caused some minor snappy feedback) cut his mic off for the first 5 seconds or so, and after a bunch of nervous laughter and confusion, he continued to attempt with lightning continuing to cut off his remarks substantially for the remainder of his answer. he took it pretty well, with a quick quip about how having been a catholic school student it made him a bit nervous, and that he guessed he really was alone on this, and even though i’m not saying i think God orchestrated the timing etc., it was definitely a sweet effect…

Sunday, June 3, 2007

the playful Word

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Thus says the wisdom of God:

The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways,
the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
from of old I was poured forth,
at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
while as yet the earth and fields were not made,
nor the first clods of the world.

When the Lord established the heavens I was there,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
when he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
when he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
then was I beside him as his craftsman,
and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race.”

-proverbs 8:22-31

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