Monday, January 19, 2004

accumulated wisdom-- petit parcours

I'll be back later this evening with more on Natsios's book, The Great North Korean Famine. Meantime...

Dr. Burgess-Jackson confirms why I'm a political cynic:

Some people persist in thinking of Republicans as advocates of small government. That's simply how it appeared when they were out of power. Their aim for eight years was to put impediments in the way of Bill Clinton, who was driving the vehicle. A better way to think of the parties is as contestants for access to the vehicle. Both parties want to spend money. They just want to spend it in different ways, to different ends. And they get it in different ways. Democrats tax; Republicans borrow. The government--the vehicle--is the prize. Get control of it and you go where you want. Democrats had their time in the driver's seat; now it's the Republicans' turn.

It's all about the goddamn control. Any benefits resulting from this struggle for control are incidental. Does anyone else see anything morally upside-down about this?

Cobb always thinks the big thoughts. Here's a gold nugget:

What you find hard to find are a full pipe of cultural productions which are edifying and open, ethical and real. Fundamentalists, although wrong to compete, are right to complain about the corruption of society. Conservatives are wrong to say we've lost something. Liberals are correct to say we've failed to create something. That something is, in the center of our society, a mature and continuous melioration of the ecumenical values of our cultural pluralism.


America is not a new land any longer. So those sentiments and longings are not so much a part of the national culture. We're growing up and getting weary and paranoid. Although we still seek opportunity, we tend to be more opportunistic with each other rather than with the borders of our understanding. Much of America is captive - beyond our reach and locked into the hands of the powerful. There are not huge vast horizons upon which to ply out legendary optimism. We are not recently escaped from captivity, we are not recently arrived. The frontier is crowded.

Instead of a new frontier with long term prospects upon which to build dreams, we are confronted with what is simply new. New films, new products, new versions, new remixes: News. So a good portion of the spirit of growth and triumph in the American sense of destiny is more of the same. We embrace it, but there is a puny payoff.

Ryan continues to show off his Jedi prowess. Here he is on conservative Episcopals who can't quite motivate themselves to realize that schism:

Looks like over in Episcopalia the conservatives are hoping to form an organized "church within a church." Why go to all the bother, rather than just breaking away from those pro-gay liberals? Here's a hint for all you religious studies people out there: when in doubt about a religious actor's motivations, it's usually a good idea to start by following the money:

Still, one of the reasons conservative parishes won't bolt is that under secular law they usually surrender their properties to the denomination. The Rev. Donald Armstrong from Colorado Springs, a delegate representing midwestern and mountain states, says "we've got a $12 million facility and we can't just walk away from it."

When forced to choose between hating gay people and having a cushy $12 million facility, these conservative Episcopalians will choose the facility. Rather than ridiculing their lack of conviction on the issue, I'd like to look at it from the bright side- it shows they don't hate homosexuals as much as they love their expensive building, and that, at least, is a good thing.

And you have to check out his newest discovery: a Buddhist anti-demon shout: "May your head be shattered into seven pieces!" Arn... are you reading this?


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