The most troubling electoral result of the year, as far as I’m concerned, was the Scottish vote on independence. Not the referendum's failure itself—few people outside the UK had much of a stake in that either way—but the fact that elite opinion elsewhere seemed relatively unshaken by the implications when 45 percent of Scots voted to dissolve the United Kingdom.
America is extraordinarily tolerant of the NFL. “Pro football, it seems, can do anything but drive us away,” wrote the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal in August. He described moves the NFL has made that would ruin another business: undercut your partners, maintain a nonprofit status while paying huge executive salaries, accept unnecessary public subsidies, stay out of Los Angeles so your teams can use the prospect of moving there as leverage to keep demanding those subsidies.
And this: alienate women, who make up 45 percent of the NFL’s viewership.
“Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?” asks Ronald S. Lauder. The World Jewish Congress president frames the question in a larger paint-by-numbers argument defending Israel’s assault on Gaza and criticizing the moral instincts of “beautiful celebrities,” reporters, and the U.N. who have not responded adequately to the brutality of Boko Haram and ISIS.
An argument like Lauder's is liable to predictable demands for greater American military involvement in the region. But the silence he names is real.
“We live in a time of exile. At least those of us do who hold to traditional Christian beliefs.”
So says Carl Trueman at First Things, making the case that the Reformed tradition will weather the “exile to cultural irrelevance” imposed by secularism and the sexual revolution better than other Christian traditions. This provocative premise touched off an online symposium on the question of which tradition is best equipped to endure this condition of exile.
The swift and unexpected political demise of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) at the hands of his own party’s primary electorate last night has already called forth endless analysis. Beaten by an economics professor who ran on a shoestring and whose major source of institutional support came from talk radio hosts, Cantor has been charged variously with focusing too much on preparing to be the next House speaker, with running an ineffective campaign that spent no money on voter contact but $200,000 on steakhouses, with being too soft on immigrants (Cantor proposed a path to legal status for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children), and with being too negative and unfair in his campaign ads. There is even speculation that Cantor was defeated by Democrats voting in Virginia’s open primary.
Whatever the mix of factors, the primary defeat of a House majority leader—something that has apparently never happened in the 115-year history of that office—indicates a politician, and a party, caught sleeping by a restless electorate.
In 2011, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott labeled the Super Bowl “the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States.” Since then, an annual flurry of media stories suggest a strong link between the national sporting extravaganza and an increase in forced prostitution. Responses to this perceived increase include awareness campaigns and heightened enforcement.
My grandmother died in 2005, on the eve of the feast of Saints Mary and Martha of Bethany. The next day I went to the weekday eucharist at St. James Cathedral in Chicago, and the story of Martha and her sister brought me instantly to tears. Like so many women of her generation (and not only hers), my grandmother was deeply identified with her hospitality and service. She was a lot like Martha, and I loved her for it.
I am more troubled now than I was then at the way this story is gendered in our reading.
On a busy day recently I pulled into a gas station and filled up my car’s gasoline tank. As I stood next to the car, I noticed that metallic stickers on the gas pump verified that the state department of weights and measures had tested the gasoline and approved its sale.
Amos is a difficult prophet to preach because he is so little interested in the possibility that the fate of the people may improve if they return to God. Yet the encounter between the prophet and Amaziah the priest in today’s lesson is thrilling, even cinematic.
When I was in high school I was fascinated with the field of evolutionary psychology. With the help of authors like Robert Wright and Richard Dawkins, I believed that I could see through the veil of what we humans do and what we say about what we do and then discover what was at the heart of our motivation.
In The Sea and the Mirror, W.H. Auden audaciously wrote new poems in the voices of each character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, all set after the action of the play concludes. The result is a work both wonderfully reverent and plainly modern—you might even call it modern in its reverence.
I would have hoped that anyone presuming to put out a book called A New New Testament would borrow Auden’s approach and give us a genuine literary and theological invention.