Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ed Brayton has a thoughtful post today on the subject of science and religion—and the disagreement among atheists and agnostics about the their compatibility.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Why Anthony Lane is priceless:
There has been much debate over Dan Brown’s novel ever since it was published, in 2003, but no question has been more contentious than this: if a person of sound mind begins reading the book at ten o’clock in the morning, at what time will he or she come to the realization that it is unmitigated junk? The answer, in my case, was 10:00.03, shortly after I read the opening sentence: “Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.” With that one word, “renowned,” Brown proves that he hails from the school of elbow-joggers—nervy, worrisome authors who can’t stop shoving us along with jabs of information and opinion that we don’t yet require. (Buried far below this tic is an author’s fear that his command of basic, unadorned English will not do the job; in the case of Brown, he’s right.) You could dismiss that first stumble as a blip, but consider this, discovered on a random skim through the book: “Prominent New York editor Jonas Faukman tugged nervously at his goatee.” What is more, he does so over “a half-eaten power lunch,” one of the saddest phrases I have ever heard.
Well, here's the boffo box office news on the Da Vinci Code's opening weekend:

Not surprisingly "The book's fervent popularity meant that Sony could sit back while the clamoring of fans and protesters did much of the publicity work—condemnation from the Vatican and other religious groups only played into Code's mystique..." (my emphasis)

No kidding. No. Kidding. You'd have thought that someone in the Vatican would've figured this out by now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A.N. Wilson on seeing the over-hyped movie:

There are no good Catholics in this film. The monk-murderer is the militant representative of an Catholic organisation that is portrayed as fraudulent and malignant.

In a free society, we are entitled to portray Catholics as we please, and to debate their faith. As I have already hinted, anti-Catholic prejudice has an old though not very glorious history in this country.

But the reason I found the film depressing was not just that, in its blundering, ignorant way, it was making cheap gibes at Opus Dei, a devout group within the Roman Church.

It was also openly stating that a free and decent way of life was possible only when we had spat upon our past, and kicked away the tradition that for 2,000 years was at the core of all that was most humane and decent in European history - namely the story that God humbled himself to become a poor human being.

Very many of us must have doubted the divinity of Jesus. Yet the respect for humanity shown by Catholics in situations of starvation in Africa or among the shanty towns of South America derives directly from their belief in Jesus Christ as the God-man, who embraced poverty.

To accuse the Church, which has done so much to stand up for human dignity and peace, of being no more than a group of gangsters and perverts is to do much more than just to insult one religious denomination.

It is yet another symptom of our contempt for our past.

Put this side by side with our craven fear of saying Christianity is true and Islamists are in error, and you have more than enough reason not just to boycott The Da Vinci Code - but also to deplore it.

Worth reading. (scroll down from the link to Wilson's).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In Rome, the Rev. John Wauck muses on what excellent opportunities a better writer than Dan Brown would've exploited:
In the nave of the Church of St. Mary Magdalen there are six statues – all women, each representing a different feminine attribute: lacrimabilis, simplex, verecunda, humilis, fidelis and … secreta. I thought to myself: how could Dan Brown have missed this one? Just imagine, a statue of a woman named “Secreta” in a church dedicated to Mary Magdalen… and the statue shows a woman standing with a key to her lips!
I can't wait for this movie and book to be so over....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

With characteristic good humor, Ed Brayton asks: "When did Pat [Buchanan] turn into the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live?"

About 15 years ago, in my opinion....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Still more conservatives are waking up to the fraudulence of 'Intelligent Design'.
If the collapse of ID represents a defeat for the Religious Right, it has been something of a relief for many nonreligious conservatives, who have wanted nothing more than for the issue to go away. Charles Krauthammer, for instance, complained that the Dover episode was "anachronistic," "retrograde" and "a national embarrassment."
This is good news all around. But on a disheartening note, I remain mystified how two people as intelligent as Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb could be so utterly ignorant of even the most basic evidence of evolutionary biology.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ed Brayton illustrates why "honest" is not exactly the first word one thinks of to describe the antics of Discovery Institute founder Bruce Chapman.

Update: especially given the obvious phoniness of stunts like this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Have the Yankees become the Welfare State of Major League Baseball? I'm watching the (fun!) game last night between the Yanks and the Sox, and I notice that almost every coach working for Joe Torre (Pena at first, Kerrigan in the Bullpen, etc.) is a former team manager who was recently fired. (Hey--why didn't Steinbrenner hire Grady Little?)

And yet K-Lo and some of my pals at NR like to talk up the Yankees like they're a no-brainer for conservatives. Why? Just because they all have short hair and pin-stripes?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Brian McGrory at the Globe gets kudos for helping spread the good news about Father Murphy's exoneration. He makes a good point, too, about Mitchell Garabedian, and why he should've quit when he was ahead:
Garabedian has done a world of good for a lot of victims of pedophilic priests, but in Murphy's situation he's embarrassing himself, trying to convict a man in the news media after dropping his suit in court. It wasn't that Garabedian couldn't prove his case; it was that there wasn't a case to prove.
Garabedian disgraced himself and his profession with his whining about technicalities.

Nice to see the Globe give some coverage to this case, although to be honest, I can't help wondering if they would've put McGrory on this story if it hadn't been for another intrepid local journalist, Gail Besse, who wrote a nice piece on Father Murphy for the National Catholic Register just a few days before.

I saw Father Murphy at this past Sunday's special Mass and gathering for all his friends and supporters. He looked rejuvenated after the horrible ordeal he went through, and as I've said before, this entire episode does not reflect well on either our Cardinal or the Archdiocese.

Special thanks to people like Thomas Flatley and Joseph Corcoran for standing by Father Murphy with the determination that the Archdiocese should've been willing to offer—but did not.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Al Qaeda. They're not just evil.

At his weekly media briefing, Lynch showed brief clips from what he said was the unedited video showing Zarqawi, wearing New Balance running shoes, struggling to handle the machine gun he was shown firing in the version posted on the Internet and aired on television. Another clip appears to show his aides grabbing the gun's hot muzzle and fumbling with it after he had finished.

Each clip lasted only a few seconds and Lynch did not say how much more footage there was.

"So what you saw on the Internet was what he wanted the world to see 'look at me. I am a capable leader of a capable organization and we are indeed declaring war against democracy in Iraq'," Lynch said. "What he didn't show you were the clips that I showed you: wearing New Balance sneakers with his uniform, surrounded by supposedly competent subordinates who grab the hot barrel of a just-fired machine gun, ... a warrior leader, Zarqawi, who doesn't understand how to operate his weapons system.

"It makes you wonder."

They're also stupid. Yep. Makes you wonder.
Looking for something other than the Da Vinci Code to read?

PZ Myers has just the thing...
Victor Davis Hanson:
George Bush has been relatively silent during the crisis; Ahmadinejad is the one losing his composure on center stage. Nearly daily he shouts to the cameras about wiping Israel off the map or unleashing his Islamic terrorists throughout the globe.

In the brief present window between Iran's enrichment and its final step to weapons-grade production, we must keep calm and give Ahmadinejad even more rope to hang himself. As his present hysteria grows, exasperated Europeans or jittery neighbors in the region may even prod the U.S. to take action - indeed, to be a little more unilateral and preemptive in letting the Iranians know that their acquisition of a nuclear weapon will never happen.

For now, our best peaceful weapon in the little time that we have left is, oddly, our own quiet and hope that a democratizing Iraq stabilizes, and in turn destabilizes undemocratic Iran. So let the loud Ahmadinejad continue to make our case why such a psychopath cannot be allowed to become nuclear. Meanwhile, give confident multilateral internationalists their long-awaited chance at diplomacy, and prepare for the worst.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006