July 29, 2015

Quote of the Day

Gut-wrenching to pick one - The Read Thing Whole!

I think [Jon] Stewart's show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark. Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me--she's one of my major role models. It's the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope. Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that's my standard--a comedy of personal risk. And by that standard, I'm sorry, but Jon Stewart is not a major figure. He's certainly a highly successful T.V. personality, but I think he has debased political discourse. I find nothing incisive in his work. As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he's partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States. -- Camille Paglia

Posted by John Kranz at 6:58 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

There's a political stalemate in the United States? Oddly enough, Leviathan government seems to keep lumbering along regardless.

I hold Stewart at fault for something far worse than "political stalemate." He contributes to something one might call 'political eugenics.'

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2015 2:37 PM
But jk thinks:

I wonder if my blog brother reads "stalemate" and equates it with "gridlock" (blessed, blessed, gridlock!)

I do not know whether stalemate is the right word. But Stewart is all about the "We're smart, but those stupid bumpkins that watch FOX News are evil and stupid and have bad hygiene practices." I'm rather tired of that and I cannot think of many who have contributed more to that (well, there is that POTUS fellow...)

She even dares to defend the Eeevil FOX News right after.

I must also leave a nice word for a deeply flawed hero of mine. Christopher Hitchens practiced that evangelistic atheism which I find off-putting, and I suspect Paglia is correct that his too-cool-for-God books were under-researched.

But one must bifurcate between those and a corpus which includes his deeply courageous and lively journalism and thoughtful historical commentary. I never read a word of his atheism books (and I am an atheist), but he wrote several great books and was honest enough to take on his left against President Clinton and militant Islamism.

A few pouty, adolescent indulgences can be forgiven.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2015 2:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If "I don't demonize Fox News" counts as defending it, then yes she did. But it was only in response to the interviewer's statement:

And that he [Jon Stewart] did the work of critiquing and fact-checking Fox and others on the right who helped create this debased media culture?

Esqueeze me?! Myopic much?

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2015 3:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Game. Set. Match: jk.

Again, your quote is from the Salondotcom question. Allow me to provide a little more context on Professor Paglia's answer:

I don't demonize Fox News. At what point will liberals wake up to realize the stranglehold that they had on the media for so long? They controlled the major newspapers and weekly newsmagazines and T.V. networks. It's no coincidence that all of the great liberal forums have been slowly fading. They once had such incredible power.

Where I come from, that's purdy good for a gay, atheist, art professor.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2015 4:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Grading on that curve, you are correct. I just thought it was a long way from, "You know, the stuff they report is factually correct, even if you don't like to hear it."

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2015 5:15 PM
But jk thinks:

I took that as the subtext. Had she said it aloud, all of Stewart's fans' heads would have exploded --I abhor violence.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2015 9:52 AM

June 18, 2015

Pope-a-palooza!

Well, I checked "rant" just in case I lapse into capitol letters.

"Laudato Si" is out and from Bill McGurn, I am guessing it is as bad as any ThreeSourcer feared. The WSJ Ed Page has a higher percentage of Catholics than most Catholic churches, and they strain to match church teachings with their free-market leanings. McGurn cannot find the sunny side of this.

Blog friend sc shared an interesting piece this morning. Crux Magazine provides a good overview of what encyclicals are, their target audiences, and a brief history. It would be a good overview for the non-Catholics among us or those who went to Catholic schools but didn't always pay attention.

The end of the article contains -- benignly to the authors -- my worst fear: that this will be important and persuasive.

Other religious leaders also have been emboldened by Laudato Si.

Two days before the encyclical was to appear, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, issued a "green declaration" signed by British faith leaders who assert that climate change has hurt the poor of the world.

On June 15, the Buddhist leader Dalai Lama told his more than 11 million Twitter followers that "since climate change and the global economy now affect us all, we have to develop a sense of the oneness of humanity."

A day later, the Lausanne Movement, representing Evangelical Christians in almost 200 countries said Evangelicals were anticipating Laudato Si and grateful for it.

A Catholic, an Orthodox, an atheist scientist, and an economist will present Francis' [sic] letter this Thursday in Rome. Francis explained this move on Sunday, saying that "we need unity to protect creation."


Trolling level: expert.

UPDATE: The more I read, the worse it gets.

Pope Francis opens the encyclical, which includes extensive sections on the theology of creation, with a lament for man's sins against "Mother Earth": "We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Tantum nos ...

Perhaps dagny's friend was right, so many years ago, that religion is a greater threat to liberty than world socialism. But the one thing none of us ever dared contemplate was that they would join forces to subjugate "every person living on Earth."

Posted by: johngalt at June 18, 2015 1:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Omnibus. (Is that "totally?")

Posted by: jk at June 18, 2015 4:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In the 'Pope Bjorn' post you mentioned that the early leaks may have presented an inaccurate summation of the encyclical's overall message.

A Catholic editorialist, having now read it, reports that Pope Francis is unduly pessimistic about the world. Furthermore, he doesn't understand what helps the poor and what hurts them. Francis' principal failure? Recognition of the power of property rights.

Given that poorly defined and enforced property rights lie at the heart of so many environmental problems, especially in poor countries, this whole area is a big omission from this encyclical. This is not a trivial issue or sniping from the sidelines. It is far more fundamental than many of the political-economic issues discussed by Pope Francis which really were a diversion from the excellent moral-theological analysis.
Posted by: johngalt at June 19, 2015 12:57 PM

February 25, 2015

All Hail Paglia!

We really don't have a theology category? I'mma gonna start one.

It's not theology qua theology, but blog friend sugarchuck shared this jewel of an interview with Camille Paglia: "The Catholic Pagan: 10 Questions for Camille Paglia."

You'll want to read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

Identifying yourself as a "dissident feminist," you often seem more at home with classical Greek and Roman paganism than with postmodern academia. How has this reality affected your public and professional relationships?

I feel lucky to have taught primarily at art schools, where the faculty are active practitioners of the arts and crafts. I have very little contact with American academics, who are pitifully trapped in a sterile career system that has become paralyzed by political correctness. University faculties nationwide have lost power to an ever-expanding bureaucracy of administrators, whose primary concern is the institution's contractual relationship with tuition-paying parents. You can cut the demoralized faculty atmosphere with a knife when you step foot on any elite campus. With a few stellar exceptions, the only substantive discourse that I ever have these days is with academics, intellectuals, and journalists abroad.


She's not known for pulling punches and this is a superb overview. Now that we've lost Christopher Hitchens, Paglia is one of that last great iconoclasts.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:39 PM | Comments (0)