When did American leaders forget the meaning of friendship?
Over the last 198 years, the United Kingdom’s faithfulness as an ally has proved invaluable, but as the Obama administration spins street-tough rhetoric — turning the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe into a BP blame game — the British people are asking themselves just what friendship with the United States is actually worth.
Lost in the talk of dripping pelicans and destroyed businesses looms another devastating tragedy, threatening the livelihood and future of the working class in the U.K., and the deepest of diplomatic ties. While President Obama may not be able to singlehandly stop the oil spill, his reckless words and cowboy-like rhetoric have undermined the financial security of, not evil corporations, but millions of British (and American middle-class workers) and their hopes for avoiding bankruptcy in their old age.
I’m currently reviewing the book Popes and Bankers for Thomas Nelson publishers. It’s a history of credit and debt from the Ancient Greeks to the Modern present. Admittedly, I’m only up to the Reformation, but so far it’s a pretty enjoyable read. It combines a laid-back, easy-to-understand style with constant literary allusions and academic snark and sarcasm that paradoxically mocks the “Institution” while obviously speaking from within its intellectual ranks.
But as I said, this book has been published by Thomas Nelson publishers — the house that brings us Max Lucado (read my recent review), John Eldridge, and books such as Rick and Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage. In short, this is the publishing house for many of the books that send postmodern Christian twentysomethings into cringing spasms. At times, these criticisms are a bit unwarranted (as in the case of Lucado), but Thomas Nelson unquestionably specializes in light Christian fiction and fare, mainly focusing on devotionals and “Christian” self-help.
One of the elements of punk rock that has always intrigued me is the deep-seated, almost innate sense that something is very, very wrong with the world as it is. On Friday night, my band was privileged to play with a fellow who embodies this attribute as well as anyone I’ve seen.
He plays under the name Homeless Gospel Choir, although he is just one guy. I had pretty much given up on the idea of a one-man punk band after trying to pull it off myself for a couple years with very little success. But the Homeless Gospel Choir succeeds where I failed. He is simultaneously abrasive, funny, and catchy — three attributes that describe a lot of the best punk rock groups out there (think NOFX).
The entanglement of the online v. print literary worlds can be baffling, and these days who doesn’t have an opinion about adapting to the way of the future or preserving the way of the past. Recently, for the first time, I’ve gotten to know a writer, Susan Orlean, first online and then in print. I started following @susanorlean on Twitter because I saw her name listed on some post, somewhere, about the best authors to follow on Twitter. @neilhimself (Neil Gaimon) also made the list as did @MargaretAtwood, both of whom I’ve previously read in print and enjoy following online.
There were others on the list who I have not read and began to follow, but Susan Orlean is different. She is incredibly funny. She has interesting conversations, and not just with other authors. She is down to earth. Every once in a while our literary worlds cross cyber-paths, which is in part what can make Twitter fun.
Before I began to follow her, I’d heard Susan Orlean’s name, but couldn’t have told you what she’d written. When I started following her, I didn’t even know if she wrote fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or one of those fancy hybrid forms. Turns out, she says on her website that she loves “writing shorter pieces for magazines” but she’s now on her 8th book, many of which include portions of shorter columns or articles. From what she tweets, I gather that she travels a lot doing book tours and research. I knew I was hooked on her when she wondered how she’d managed to pack 3 pairs of shoes and no underwear.
Hello friends. I’m writing from Paris where I’ve come to follow up on Sessions’ French pension reform story. We’re really going to nail this thing.
No. That’s not true.
I’m actually on vacation with my wife celebrating our five year wedding anniversary, but while I’m here I wanted to direct your attention to both an excellent blog and, I think, a fairly decent post.
The blog is called “Speaking of Faith Observed” and it is the blog of American Public Radio’s religion-based show “Speaking of Faith,” hosted by Krista Tippett. I recommend both to you. The blog post I want to bring your attention to is my first piece for SOF Observed entitled “Defenders of the Faith.” It’s about embracing extremists and bringing them back into the fold.
That’s all for now. Keep it real stateside.
What could possibly explain the new data plans they rolled out?
I don’t know.
Seriously, if anyone knows, leave a comment on the blog. Because I sure as heck-fire don’t. In fact, I don’t even have anything to say about it. I have a deadline for this post and no material because all but the confundus neurons have stopped firing in my, apparently, pea-sized brain. All I can think about is how AT&T came up with this cockamamie scenario.
What was that meeting like?
“Hey, I’ve got an idea! How ’bout we we start charging 65% of our customers half of what they’ve been paying us for the same exact thing they are already using!” And then some balding, bulge-bellied buffoon shouts, “that’s brilliant,” with a tongue-gurgling attempt at an Irish accent hoping the female executive sitting four leather-clad chairs down will think he’s earned that man-pooch drinking a couple Guinness every night while watching UEFA Champions League matches, not sitting on his fart-stained couch with a kiddie pool full of half-empty PBRs, melted ice and silk undies instructing him to “wash cold,” while the TV burns WWE SO-RAW-YOU’LL-GET-BOTULISM deep enough into his retinae to erase those now painful memories of “the good ole days” back in the frat house at Coasted-Through-College-Cause-Dad-Has-Got-A-Friend-At-AT&T State.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children- Psalm 103: 8-17
Writing requires deliberate effort and time, two things which have been lacking in my life over the last few weeks. Something about traveling to the United Kingdom and proposing to your girlfriend seems to have stifled some of my public creative output.
Not that I’m complaining.
In a Memorial Day special on WORLD‘s web site, Lee Wishing jumps off Russell Kirk’s The American Cause to do some typical musing that results in a typical insinuation: the American cause and the Christian cause are all but the same thing.
Kirk cautions that we not make an idol of the USA, and become jingoistic and the self-appointed “keepers of the world’s conscience.” But it’s clear he thought we should work to preserve, protect, and promote the Christian ideals that make American society thrive, such as belief in an unchanging God who made people in His image and entitled to life, liberty, and the protection of their property; punishing actions that violate these inalienable rights; an understanding that mankind and societies are not perfectible through government tinkering and revolution; recognizing that leaders who think otherwise are dangerous ideologues; tolerating other religious faiths and valuing liberty of conscience; and cultivating free and orderly markets to improve the human condition.
Defending America begins with understanding her Christian foundation and that America, its faults notwithstanding, is the greatest society the world has known for upholding human dignity. As America battles foreign enemies and domestic ideologues this Memorial Day, understand, Christian, that you and I bear a great responsibility for defending this nation and we owe a great debt of gratitude to those whose graves are decorated today.
First, I’ve no objection to recognizing the ways that Christian ideas, even though they were filtered through a kind of theistic rationalism, shaped America’s political and legal infrastructure. But that admitting that fact is different than the embracing the kind of seamless blend of 20th-century evangelical Christianity, conservative economics, and national ideology on display in Mr. Wishing’s post. I feel obligated to call attention to that particular intellectual cocktail wherever I see it because it does neither Christians nor Americans any good. If anything, it prevents some evangelicals from letting their faith critique their national ideology by helping them make-believe that God and Country are one and the same.
- No public Twitter messages.
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