I refrain from taking cheap shots at Carrie Prejean because at this point, it's way too easy. But I do have a question that even people rooting for Prejean and her views should ask: if conservative women are serious about being taken seriously and communicating their views to a wider audience, why do they seem scared of the mainstream media?
A look at Prejean’s recent interviews, along with Sarah Palin’s recent public appearance, shows that conservative women seem to have a double standard: they'll tell us everything we want to know as long as it isn't a liberal asking the questions.
By now, you’ve all seen the clip of Prejean telling Larry King that the media has a “double standard” where conservative women are concerned and that it believes they are “fair game to be attacked.” She then threatened to storm out of a Larry King interview after he asked her why she settled her lawsuit with Miss California USA pageant. In case you haven’t seen it:
I was researching George W. Bush campaign slogans today (um, no don't ask me why) and was a little surprised to hear one sounding approximately two-thirds familiar: "Yes, America Can!"
I've never heard anyone comment on the similarity between the two slogans before. (Maybe people have?) But I was struck by the difference one word—switching "America" to "We"—can make. It changes the whole idea. "America" touches patriotic and nationalist chords, while "Yes, We Can!" is universal but at the same time, personal. Instead of the abstract "America," it's "you and I."
I looked into some other slogans. John Kerry's "Let America Be America Again" sounds plaintive instead of strong, and so it hits the patriotic chords all out of tune. The "let" seems passive and the verb is weak. Bob Dole's "A Better Man for a Better America" sounds faintly judgmental—unsurprising, considering who he was running against. That slogan seems to say he's defining himself by who's he not—NOT Bill Clinton. Coolidge's slogan, "Stay Cool with Coolidge," is practically flippant. A sign of the flapper times?
Anyway, you can blame my current Mad Men obsession for this nerdy blog post. I'm lately fascinated by how advertising and branding tries to touch human emotions and longings. (When Don Draper does an ad presentation for a slide projector, he talks about it taking us "to a place where we ache to go again" and creating nostalgia—"the pain from an old wound." I bawled my eyes out. Twice.)
Something to add to the discussion of whether the church tries to "out-obsess" the culture when it comes to sex. Let's talk about the preoccupation with celebrity virginity, most recently getting attention with quarterback Tim Tebow's admission that he's a virgin.
Tebow's news came a little differently than most. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and (infamously) Britney Spears have made much of their virginity. (In fact, the iPhone purity ring app uses "Jonas Brothers" and "Miley Cyrus" – along with, oddly, "Billy Graham" and "Barack Obama" – as its keywords.) In this case, a reporter flatly asked Tebow a personal question about a subject he hasn't yet talked about. The reporter, Clay Travis, said he asked because he expected Tebow would say that he was a virgin. It also seems Travis wanted to make a point:
I guarantee you come Sunday across the South ministers will approach their pulpits and use Tebow's virginity as an example to the flock. After all, if Tebow can resist countless girls throwing themselves at him on a regular basis, is it really valid for you or I or countless others to argue that preserving our virginity was just too difficult? Maybe. But I think it's much tougher. Like many things in life, it all comes down to a choice. And Tebow controls his own choices better than most.
But the problem with this is that if Tebow does slip up and doesn't resist, is it then "valid for you or I or countless others to argue that preserving our virginity was just too difficult" as well?
Erika Lassen—a Brigham Young University graduate, stay-at-home mother of five, Texas native, Virginia resident and self-described conservative—objects to a Calvin Klein ad in New York. Here is a link to the maybe just "sexy," maybe "borderline pornographic" but definitely "attention-whoring" ad. But a WARNING before you click! Lassen writes:
I am grateful for freedom of speech. It is because of this right that I am able to publicly disagree with President Barack Obama. However, should there be a line drawn that freedom of speech should not cross? We are free as long as our freedoms do not infringe upon the civil liberties of others, correct?
An interesting thing happens when pornography is viewed. Like a leech, it clings to the brain. The image pops up in our minds at rather random, unexpected times. Even if we don't want to ever see the image again, it sneaks up on you. I do not want the Calvin Klein image in my mind and when I saw it on the front page of Fox I immediately wished I had not, but I did see it. And now I will need to force the image out whenever it springs on me.
Calvin Klein's freedom of speech has effectively infringed upon my freedoms.
Ok. Hmm. I have seen this ad and have never thought about it once. It went in one eyeball and out the other, never springing on my brain again at all. This may be because I don't have lesbian or foursome fantasies, or am totally mature, or jaded and conscience-calcified from living in the city or all of the above.
Even if it did bother me the bottom line is—I decided to live in New York, so I deal with it. Lassen has chosen to live in Virginia, so why does she care
After the jump: would my perspective change if I was the mother of five?
Someone sent me a link to ChristWire.org with the query, "Is this a joke, or am I just scarred because I know people who actually sort of think like this?" I took a look, posted a link and asked the same thing.
You have to wade through several posts to figure out it is, in fact, a joke. ("Mexican Zombie Flu Raises Black Rapper 'Tupac' From the Dead" finally tipped us off.) Now I have spent many a riotous hour reading LarkNews.com, so I can appreciate Christian satire. My main objection is that Christ Wire is so clumsy and heavy-handed that it's just not funny. (Although another friend said that added to the intrigue, because it's so close to believable.)
So why am I drawing everyone's attention to non-funny satire? I have a theory that the best satire has a little bit of affection behind it. You love a community that, because it is made up of humans, always fails to live up to its grandiose goals. Satire just slyly points out that discrepancy and so it's a kind of exhortation. That's why people sometimes hate it — it's truer than reality.
Anyway, Christ Wire is like watching a non-funny person with an obnoxious laugh constantly crack himself up. Read Lark News instead.
In light of Joshua Green's call to "Regulate Pundits!" let's take a refresher course in the recent truly substantive coverage of the Letterman-Palin feud.
Today in a pleasant post on The Atlantic, Green said we should hold pundits accountable for getting it all wrong:
Yes, pundits are a plague on us all. It is time we acted.
The crowning indignity, of course, is that they're usually wrong. Not just off-by-a-few-degrees wrong, but invading-Iraq-is-a-good-idea wrong. "Dow 36,000" wrong. And what are the consequences? There are none at all! You can blow the biggest questions of the day, time after time, and still claim to be a discerning seer.
Well, there ought to be consequences. It's not as if blogs and propaganda outlets don't keep track of this stuff. In Washington, regulation is back in fashion. If we can regulate tricky things like credit-default swaps, surely we can regulate pundits.
On June 12, after Letterman's first apology, Margaret Carlson said on The Daily Beast, "Palin Can't Outsmart Letterman":
There is only one reason Palin should relent—she’s not a good enough politician to play. … Picking a fight with a trained comedian, refusing to accept his apology, and continuing to battle after the white flag is shown reveals a complete lack of political sophistication.
This is what we all thought, but there's no doubt now that Palin won and Letterman lost.
We open source art, encyclopedias and Twitter tees.. Why not God? In Search Magazine, Sam Kean writes about "open source religion." It's one of those things you finally read about and realize should be far less surprising than it actually is.
Open-source religion is an amalgamation of two ways of thinking about the world. The first is religion, a common set of practices, rituals, and beliefs. It’s as old as the hills, one of the most enduring traits of humankind. The “open source” component is new, an unforeseen consequence of the Internet revolution of the 1990s. It’s a reference to open-source computer code, code that anyone is allowed to rewrite, add to, or delete. …
Adherents of open-source religion note that tradition can calcify into dogma, and if there’s one common trait to people who practice open-source religion, it’s distaste for dogma. Some open-source believers want to found entirely new religions, and some merely want to reinvigorate a mainstream faith. All want to change people’s perceptions of religion from something that’s handed down to them, something they receive, and make religion something people do. All religions evolve, of course, but the tinkering inherent to open-source religions can benefit founders and followers alike, Webster says. “When you share what you learn, you learn better,” he notes, “and the content evolves that much more efficiently.”
In other words, Vote on the virgin birth! Include user input as to whether Jesus is God! Interestingly, the idea seems far less provocative in practice. It doesn't seem to have led to many actual, doctrinal changes yet. People seem to (shockingly!) like ritual and tradition, and practice a religion because they, well, hold to its core beliefs.
The premise is flawed. Think about it.
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