Reader Mail

Misunderstandings

Mormons and politics. China vs. Japan. Bush too late. YouTime. Greek men. Plus much more.

12.18.06

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SINGLED OUT
Re: The Washington Prowler's Mormonism in the Spotlight:

The Prowler states: "But the current campaign is of a different sort, one that would be high profile in as much as the church would be openly discussing and clarifying points of the Mormon faith that have long been either misunderstood or misreported."

Misunderstood? Like the belief God was once a man? (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22) Perhaps Jesus and Satan being spirit brothers? (Gospel Principles, pp. 17-18; Mormon Doctrine, p. 192) That's just for starters. Sounds like the Prowler is a Mormon.
-- Nick Hauser

This is more of a possible interesting story to report on than a comment. I'm sure The Prowler knows that in the late 1800s the LDS leadership discovered God had changed His mind about "plural marriage" being a good thing, which was fortunate since Utah could not progress from territory to statehood until they outlawed polygamy.

Along that line I vaguely recall once reading in a book or article about Mormon settlement history that after polygamy was outlawed in Utah there was a contingent of Mormons who wanted to continue their traditional practice. The Mexican government invited those Mormons, along with as many wives as they chose to bring, to come settle a then-vacant portion of northern Mexico in hopes that their industrious success in farming arid Utah could be transferred south of the border. The article specifically mentioned that former Michigan Governor George Romney's family was among the diehard polygamists who settled -- at least for a while -- in Mexico to evade U.S. polygamy laws.

Assuming my recollection is correct, this bit of history, while not bearing directly on Mitt Romney's political philosophy, might make an interesting short article in this era when debate about traditional marriage -- whatever that might mean -- is such a hot issue.
-- Charles Ryan
Winthrop, Washington

It is a consummate statement of culture-du-jour to note which religions are "allowed" to be "issues" in a public context. Mitt Romney's membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "allowed" to be an "issue." Can anyone imagine an analogous avalanche of articles if a presidential candidate were a Muslim?

The same baloney occurs in the moribund newspaper business. Was at a conference of newspaper types and mentioned the Washington Times. Without blinking, a newspaper executive observed that the Washington Times was owned by the Moonies. This particular newspaper executive, profoundly reverential as he was in the commandments of political correctness, knew it was entirely proper to make such an observation, whereas making the same observation of the religious affiliation of the long time publishers of the New York Times would be a capital offense, and just as objectively irrelevant.

The worst aspect of this hypocrisy is the implicit ignorance of the electorate, or worse yet, its complicity with it.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

CHINA DOESN'T LOVE JAPAN
Re: George H. Wittman's Japan: The Rising Sun...Again?:

Excellent article by Mr. Wittman, but I believe he understated the situation a bit when he stated that "China...still carries a vivid memory of its suffering under the Japanese assault and occupation during the 1930s-40s." I currently teach English in China. The level of hatred that many Chinese have towards the Japanese is unbelievable. Even while riding the public bus, I see flat-screen TVs play nationalistic cartoons depicting horrible caricatures of the Japanese and their past atrocities. Surprisingly, it is the younger generation who are often the most hateful. I have heard that if a Chinese boy sleeps with a Japanese girl, he will be very rough and hurtful with her in order to "pay the Japanese back." Beijing seems to rely heavily on its propaganda towards Japan as a means to focus the Chinese people's attention elsewhere. I believe that if the average Japanese person could live one day in China, he or she would immediately support the development of the Japanese military.

Keep up the good work,
-- B. Smith

At this moment in America's history China may be an economic partner but is also a military threat to us and the rest of Asia. The only way the U.S. can control China's expansion plans and keep North Korea intact is to urge Japan to increase military options. Japan may be behind China militarily but the Chinese leaders remember what happened to them the last time they fought and will be very careful not to move swiftly themselves and not to let North Korea involve them in a fight they don't want to happen.
-- Dan Mittelman

ALREADY TOO LATE
Re: Jed Babbin's Circles of Influence:

Excellent column, Mr. Babbin.

The only problem is to get anyone in the current administration to pay attention to the problem you have so succinctly defined.

I am waiting for the Administration to announce a Mideast policy, but sadly, I am not optimistic. If there are any foreign policy experts in the government, they are being kept muzzled and caged.
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

This feels somewhat like deja vu all over again, Mr. Babbin. Your last paragraph, though written much better, of course, than I ever could, is what I was trying to say in a recent LTE, about a week ago. Either it's that obvious, or I was an inspiration. I'll go with it's that obvious. I had hoped the President would act sooner, before, or even after the election, than waiting for the Congress to change hands in January, since some of his possible actions, like increasing troop levels, may cause a meltdown the House. But, we had to wait for the virtually worthless Baker Boys report, and of course, the "political climate" wasn't "right." Pardon my digression, but maybe we could get Mr. Seitz of recent LTE fame with his litany of man made CO2 causation for the world's ills to focus his morose attention on the one "climate change" taking place that we can actually do something about.

Anyway, in my not so humble opinion, having waited, the President has set himself up for disappointment if he intends to take any direct action, and consequently, your point about establishing the concept in the public mind, that decisions about Iraq must take place "in the context of the Middle East and the rest of the world," may already be moot. The public, that is, those who support the war, is more likely to understand an apparent shift in policy based on dramatic confrontational actions such as those I mentioned in my previous LTE, even with the Saudi's blustering and Turkey's troop mustering. Without that, I fear the President's opportunity will have been lost.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

HEY, YOU
Re: Jeremy Lott's Only You:

I laughed when I saw the story about Time selecting "you" as person of the year. About 35 years ago, someone gave me a wall mirror, maybe 8X10, that was made up to look just like the Time cover including the banner "Man of the Year" on it. My roommates and I had it hanging in our place at college. It seemed pretty funny at the time, now it seems even more so. I think I might still have that packed away somewhere. Time to get it out again.
-- Roger Ross
Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Time magazine? I don't read that publication and am not familiar with it. Why would a magazine about clocks pick a person of the year?
-- Diamon Sforza
Bartlett, Illinois

LISTENING
Re: Mark Tooley's An Advent of Torture:

No one likes to be laughed at. Everyone likes to be listened to. Lecture Russia, North Korea, Cuba or any of the totalitarian states who's power rests on the backs of it's people and they will ignore you. Lecture the U.S. and we will listen to you. We'll take you seriously, examine ourselves and try to do better.

It's a straight Pavlovian response.

In the Presbyterian Church we grass rooters have been trying to find a way to kick these little minded reactionary idiots in the pants. I was done when Louisville tried to tell us to divest from Caterpillar Tractor because they sold Bulldozers to Israel.

There is such a thing as being too smart for your own good. Or rather, thinking you're smarter than everyone else so you don't have to listen to anyone else.
-- Stammon

STANDARD GREEK
Re: Michael D. Harding's letter (under "Sounds Greek") in Reader Mail's Playing With Numbers:

Mr. Harding comes down hard on those who would look to the New Revised Standard Version as the literal word of the Almighty, and cautions that one needs to go back to the original Greek to decipher the true meanings of words in the New Testament.

After reading his letter of December 18, I did just that. I looked up arsenokoites in the Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, published by the German Bible Society, and there the word is defined as a "male sexual pervert." Well, perhaps the Bible Society editors are subject to bias also. If one then goes to Liddell & Scott, the standard lexicon for English-speaking Greek scholars for over a century, the word is rendered in its New Testament sense as "lying with men."

Greek, like German, is a synthetic language, which means it expresses complicated concepts by combining simple words together. An example of this is the German word for glove, which to an English-speaker looks for all the world like hand-shoe. Arsene (that final e is really the letter eta, or long e) means man. In the plural it means the male sex. Koite (long e again) is translated as the marriage bed. L&S give it the New Testament meaning of chambering or lasciviousness. Furthermore, Greek nouns ending in tau eta sigma (tes), acquire the meaning of one who does, that is a doer. If you take, for example, the Greek word for poem and add the tes ending, it becomes a maker of poems, i.e., a poet. From this it is logical to infer that an arsenokoites is a man (because the noun itself is masculine) who chambers with a man. I should think Mr. Harper would realize this for what it is, as a fair attempt to define a homosexual in the ordinary sense of that word.

Rather than attempting to stretch Greek nouns beyond their elastic limits, Mr. Harding would be better advised to read the excellent defense of Christian homosexuality made by the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Preacher to Harvard University, in his 1996 book, The Good Book.
-- Stuart W. Settle
Richmond, Virginia

NO INSULT INTENDED
Re: Michael Tomlinson's letter (under "Reagan for Bush") in Reader Mail's Playing With Members:

With regard to the war in Iraq letter writer Michael Tomlinson asserts that, "many conservatives are bored and think we could "win" this thing if we'd just raze the country or actually fight Not only would razing the country insure defeat in Iraq, but it would unnecessarily widen the war... [to involve Iran and Syria]." I wouldn't characterize my feeling about the conflict as boredom so much as frustration with a pacification effort that is inadequate to the challenge presented, which challenge was encountered unwisely.

As far as "raz[ing] the country," it seems to me that the time for that is long past. Our leadership, perhaps overwhelmed by politically correct notions that the Iraqis are people just like us, coupled, perhaps, with a desire to justify their massive spending on smart killing technology, went into this battle naively, at best. What made them think that the Iraqis' will to fight and suffer would be any less formidable than that of the Germans or the Japanese? We razed German and Japanese population centers, and did not thereby "insure defeat", but rather, overcame the will to resist. We rejected back door entreaties for negotiated surrender and insisted on unconditional surrenders, knowing that the evils must be taken out by the root.

The Iraqis are more like those citizens than they are like us, being fanatically committed to the preservation of their religious, if not political, prerogatives. That their religious and political prerogatives are fragmented by and through centuries of a sort of internal tribal warfare only complicates the matter. There is no basis that I can perceive to imagine that the Iraqis as a whole are suited to, or desirous of, the sort of Constitutional, libertarian principles of government on which this nation was founded. If I were an Iraqi, I suspect that I'd view our alleged nation building efforts as tantamount to rape, and apparently, many of them agree, paying with their lives to resist.

That we must now deal with the reality of Iran and Syria being powerful religious allies of Iraqi factions with their own political designs for Iraq is another indictment of our leadership's rush to war. The time to have accounted for that reality was before launching our military on an admittedly powerful, but still in some ways third world military, which we easily annihilated. Can anyone blame Iran and Syria for being reluctant to engage us militarily while doing all within their power to extend their influence among their Muslim neighbors and support them in their resistance? Even if we should somehow subdue the Iraqis, do our leaders imagine that Iran and Syria will cease their intrigues? We don't have to raze Iraq to engage Iran and Syria; they are already at the party.

Mr. Tomlinson claims that this is "a war we are winning." He cites the enthusiasm of a Marine colonel to that effect, but he doesn't define just what is meant by his use of the term "winning." That we won the military confrontation is beyond question. That we can ever win the hearts and minds of the people, or even subdue them, is another matter, and the critical one.

I'd like to hear the Marine colonel, or even President Bush, reconcile the ever increasing casualties among our soldiers and Iraqi civilians, police and military with the notion that we are winning. Presumably, each would eschew a Vietnam style "body count" analysis, after all the embarrassment that approach caused when we won those battles and lost the wars. Besides, it's now even less fashionable to acknowledge that killing people and breaking all their stuff is the surest, if not only, way to open hearts and minds to new ways of thinking and doing things. I'm sure I'm not the most creative of thinkers, but a definition of "winning" in Iraq that fits the facts utterly escapes me.

We failed to learn the lessons about so-called "limited warfare" in Korea and Vietnam, and predictably, we are being schooled in them in Iraq. I see no patriotic effect in supporting the leaders who foolishly dragged us into this quagmire, and don't anyone give me that idiotic refrain about that equating to not supporting the troops. Supporting the troops, in my mind, consists in having the political will to let them kill the enemy firstest with the mostest, inflicting collateral casualties and damage as necessary or even convenient. That will is lacking in our leaders, who play the troops as pawns in a game of political chess, and I lay the charge of not supporting the troops at their feet.

Contrary to Mr. Tomlinson's claim, I see no insult to our military in my analysis. It has been our leadership that has failed, not the military, and any insults perceived should be born by those leaders without deflecting them onto the troops. They should, but obviously don't, have the courage to endure them, much less consider them as evidence of their missteps. Again contrary to Mr. Tomlinson, I suggest that our leaders are in dire need of tactical and strategic, not to mention historical, advice, as they have once again led us into the quicksand of a half measures war.

I consider it my patriotic duty to call to the attention of our leaders the ancient wisdom of George Washington who advised against foreign entanglements. If the debacle in Iraq isn't an entanglement then I don't know what one is.

It's my hope that our leaders in years to come will be men and women who swallow their hubris and refrain from putting our troops into harm's way without the willingness to have them kill all the people and break all the stuff it may take to open the enemy's hearts and minds to the ends sought to be accomplished. To do less is once again proven to be a recipe for an endless and fruitless expenditure of blood and treasure, carried on the backs of the troops and the taxpayers.
-- Mark Fallert
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

TODAY'S GUEST LECTURE
Re: Philip Klein's Don't Look Back:

Klein argues that President Bush receives no kudos for preventing terrorist attacks, when really he should be seen as the Great Protector. Along those same lines, President Bush must be accountable for 9/11 as he was the Decider on that date. We all remember him sitting there, bewildered and unsure of how to react, and we all understand that it was in fact Vice President Cheney who reacted and instituted continuity of Government and signed orders allowing for the shooting down of Airliners. While there is little doubt that a strong reaction with the full force of the American Military and Intelligence is the only reaction to a terrorist incident, a fully-fledged invasion and regime change, the "Bush Doctrine", is a failed one. Bush can receive credit for no terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11, but on the flip side, he must take responsibility for 9/11. As the sign on Truman's desk rightly articulated, "The Buck Stops Here".
-- Nathan Maskiell
Melbourne, Australia

STIRRING THE ATMOSPHERE
Re: Re: Karl Auerbach's and Geoff Bowden's letters (under "Hot and Cold") in Reader Mail's Playing With Numbers:

Regarding the disparity between faith and fact based environmental advocacy, I can scarcely disagree with Karl Auerbach that some climate scientists turn into televangelists when put before television cameras, because I started deploring the phenomenon in the late Carl Sagan's day -- as in this essay which can be read on my blog, whose subtitle is, relevantly enough, "What's the matter with science and the media?"

As to Geoff Bowden's complaint that he has "never understood about the ozone hole CFC wrangling. How can a much heavier than air molecule like CFC released at low pressure at ground level manage to climb many miles into the stratosphere," may I remind him that air itself consists of lighter and heavier molecules, and atoms, argon and CO2 being dense enough to pool on the laboratory floor if left to evaporate quietly in still air. But just as stirring disperses sugar and cream from top to bottom in a cup of coffee, winds outdo diffusion in mixing the atmosphere.

As to how "'phenomenally stable -- Freon-12' breaks down right where it is needed to release its chlorine and destroy the stratospheric ozone over the South Pole," Mr. Bowden errs in assuming Freons and other CFC's are concentrated by latitude -- ozone depletion is global. While CO2 lends champagne its sparkle iCFC's are utterly insoluble in water, and unremoved by rain, circulate globally until eventually embroiled in the frigid photochemistry of the poles. Their destruction by ultraviolet light, and their role in the catalytic destruction of ozone is a complex business well covered in Paul Crutzen's Nobel acceptance speech, which I'm sure Mr. Bowden will find an edifying Google,

It will force him to rethink the notion that "HCl shot out of a huge volcano in Antarctica can show up as chlorine in the stratosphere above Antarctica and affect the ozone there." For to end on a fact of natural history noted in the paper I first pointed out ( reading which would have spared us this correspondence), Erebus's plume cools adiabatically into a mist of acid droplets in the chill Antarctic air . Though this rapid fallout keeps most of the chlorine Erebus emits out of stratospheric circulation, it turns the ice for leagues downwind sour as lemonade. There are worse hazards. As a greenhorn geophysicist, I overnighted in an erupting cladera wrapped in a red blanket, but emerged so tie-dyed as to be tongue tied in acid rain debates for years thereafter.
-- Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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