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Super Zip parents enraged that church-run preschool will teach kids about Jesus

My latest for First Things:

Oh, the horror! “Why is this happening?” asked one of the parents, Leah Markowitz, whose two children attend Concord-St. Andrew’s Cooperative Nursery School, operated by the Concord-St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Bethesda, Maryland.  “It feels like a crusade,” said another mother, Kate Mueller, whose three-year-old is enrolled at Concord-St. Andrew’s. Both mothers were talking to Washington Post reporter Joe Heim, author of a Nov. 4 story whose title, “‘A Breach of Trust,’” quotes yet another infuriated parent, Darren Higgins, whose four-year-old is enrolled at the school.

Concord-St. Andrew’s is located in leafy zip code 20817, home of the Burning Tree Club (where numerous U.S. presidents have famously teed off), and with an annual median household income of $180,412. That likely classifies 20817 as a “Super Zip,” the term coined by Charles Murray in Coming Apart to characterize the 650 or so U.S. zip codes where the median household income exceeds $120,000 and seven out of ten adults have college degrees.

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VA or no VA, Nov. 8, 2016 was the most wonderful day since Nov. 4, 1980

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(Image: WKBV)

The polls said it would be close, but she would win. So I decided to skip election results—I’d find out the bad news the next morning. Instead, I fidgeted all day long and into the evening. It was like knowing I’d be executed: Did I want to wait through my last doomed hours, or did I want it all to be over with right now?

Read the whole thing.

Women in Journalism 101

 

First they came for the tacos: “cultural appropriation” for whites to make burritos

From my latest for the Independent Women’s Forum

“Evil” Trump: It used to be thought “simplistic” to divide people up between good and evil

My latest op-ed for the Los Angeles Times:

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No “complexity” and “ambiguity” here!

“Manichaeans” was a favorite derogatory way to describe GOP President George. W. Bush and his Iraq war supporters in the mid-2000s. The term referred to the followers of Mani, a third-century Persian prophet who founded a highly successful religious movement that rivaled Christianity. Mani was a dualist who believed that the world was divided between the forces of light and good, and the forces of darkness and evil, both locked in a never-ending conflict. Christians, who believe that despite the existence of evil, God and his creation are good, deemed Manichaeism heresy.

***

With the speed of a wildfire, the word “Manichaean” spread through the liberal punditry to characterize Bush’s supposedly simplistic and intellectually challenged analysis. Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer promptly ground out a 2004 book about Bush, “The President of Good and Evil.” On a book-tour stop at UCLA, Singer accused the president of engaging in a “childish reading of moral rules.” Singer traced that notion to Bush’s evangelical Christian beliefs, arguing that evangelicals had never managed to eradicate the Manichaean heresy from their primitive mind-sets.

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Then 2016 arrived, and with it, Donald Trump’s winning run for the White House. Suddenly the words “complexity” and “ambiguity” — not to mention “nuanced” — disappeared from the vocabularies of the so-called sophisticates, washed away in the swirling high tide of the return of that simplistic word: “evil.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

 

 

My thoughts about “Silence”: I don’t know what it’s trying to say, and that’s its problem

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Garfield as Fr. Rodriques: You can just tell he’s gonna apostasize

I went to see “Silence,” and I’m of two minds.

I’d actually dreaded the experience. Having read Shusaku Endo’s novel and also seen the excellent 1971 Japanese adaptation of the novel (for which Endo himself was a screenwriter), I really wasn’t enthusiastic about viewing extenuated scenes of exquisitely gruesome Japanese torture, of which there was plenty in the 1971 movie–and I’ve also read “Unbroken” and seen “The Bridge on the River Kwai” a number of times, so I can’t really summon up much enthusiasm for boiling Westerners alive and hanging them upside-down in a pit while the blood slowly dripped out of their heads because 17th-century colonialism or whatever. I see your anti-Eurocentrism rant and raise you one Bataan Death March. My husband’s favorite uncle barely survived the Battle of the Coral Sea, so maybe I’m prejudiced.

Even worse, I dreaded seeing a movie whose subject matter might actually be not the brutal persecution of Christians under the Tokogawa Shogunate but Martin Scorsese’s tiresome conflicted views about the Catholicism in which he was raised. OK, Martin, we know you’re an ex-seminarian, so spare us. In any event, I dragged myself to “Silence” and covered my face with my hands during the most ghastly of the slow-mo executions. I’m a Catholic, after all. and I ought to face squarely what can happen to Catholics and their Christian brethren when they stand up for their faith. The 21 Coptic martyrs to ISIS in 2015 are the latest version of the 26 Catholic martyrs in Nagasaki in 1597–except that the lucky Copts were beheaded, not crucified. As the movie progressed, I couldn’t help wondering if I wouldn’t have betrayed Christ myself just to get out of being strapped to a cross for four days until I drowned in the ocean: Give me that fumi-e so I can step on it quick!

It turned out that “Silence” wasn’t as bad a movie as I’d expected–and in fact it had some very fine things going for it. As well as some disturbing negatives.

Pros:

1. The cinematography was spectacularly beautiful. The movie was visually haunting.

2. All the Japanese and Chinese actors were terrific. So was Adam Driver, who stole the movie as Garupe, the Jesuit sidekick who seems like the quieter and weaker counterpart of the more voluble and aggressive Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield)–but proves to be the stronger in every way. The gaunt Driver looked like an El Greco painting from the 17th century–so why didn’t he get the lead? And Liam Neeson is positively Satanic as Fr. Ferreira, the apostate priest turned Japanese Buddhist who employs every trick in the temptation-of-Christ playbook to persuade (successfully) Rodrigues to apostasize, too.

3. The movie treats the Catholic faith and the Catholic sacraments of the characters with extraordinary reverence. The scenes of the old Latin Masses brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, Fr. James Martin, S.J., consultant on matters Catholic and Jesuit for this movie.

4. The movie bucks the stance of today’s intellectual elites who regard Christian martyrs past and present as ego-trippers in it for the glory. These martyrs, chronically impoverished and exploited peasants regarded as human beasts of burden by their snooty samurai overlords, die humbly for their faith, displaying more raw courage than I’d expect of myself under the circumstances. They were incandescent.

Cons:

1. Did “Silence” really have to be three hours long? There were simply too many repetitive scenes–people trampling on the fumi-e over and over, for example. I actually got bored after a while, especially during the drawn-out denouement. At least a half-hour could have hit the cutting-room floor, probably more–but this is what happens when a director like Scorsese is so famous from his previous movies that he gets to call all the shots on his latest. A film editor should have reined him in.

2. Andrew Garfield. He was simply too pretty and too ebullient for his conflicted lead role. His kind of naive self-confidence worked well in “Hacksaw Ridge,” where the the hero in fact is a naively self-confident Christian whose brute commitment to his faith makes him a hero–but Garfield doesn’t do a good job playing self-doubt.

3. The sceenplay. The movie is kind of pat, suggesting that Rodrigues’ ultimate apostasy, trampling on the fumi-e in order to prevent further torture of Japanese Christians, is WJWHD–what Jesus would have done under the circumstances. And thus that Rodriques is ultimately redeemed. Endo’s novel and the 1971 film version is far more ambivalent about the price that Rodriques pays in order to save his own hide. Scorsese made a big long movie but he didn’t achieve what seems to have been his desired goal: a subtle examination of what it means to be a Christian.

Electoral College liberal debacle: “Hamilton Electors” go Aaron Burr on Hillary Clinton

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Hamiltonians in Pennsylvania hoping to sway electors to Clinton

Actually, the election was supposed to be over a month and a half ago, on Nov. 8. But supporters of losing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton wouldn’t let go, and decided to turn the formality of the Electoral College’s ratification of the results into a second go-round. Hence, the “Hamilton Elector” campaign. The idea was that Alexander Hamilton had written in Federalist No. 68  that the College was supposed to be a body “of men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation.”

Perusing the Federalist Papers was undoubtedly a first-time experience for the diehard liberals in the Clinton camp. Usually it’s conservatives who champion the limited-government principles enunciated by Hamilton and his proto-Republican Party confreres John Madison and John Jay in those august pamphlets. But the austere Hamilton has been repackaged as an immigrant rap artist, so he’s now a formidable liberal icon. His supporters also now delicately glide over that sexist word “men” in Hamilton’s Federalist 68 as they’ve used his words to insinuate that the Electoral College’s job is to veto their states’ popular votes.

So indeed a record number of  electors went Full Hamilton and either voted or tried to vote against their states’ presidential choice. The only problem–oops!–is that all but two of them used their newfound claim of veto power to vote against Hillary Clinton–not exactly what the Hamilton Elector people had in mind.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen