Reader Mail

Adventures With Andrew

Dr. Sullivan, the tough Tory toff. Plus: Nuptials grammar. Friday in review. Severe tongue-dashing. And much more.


Re: R. Andrew Newman's Kicking the "Christianists":

Andrew Sullivan displays many of the traits of the latter day post-modernist (a.k.a. Nietzsche's Last Man). They cannot see any transcendent truths beyond themselves. Sin is a construct not to get in the way of personal happiness and self-fulfillment. As a matter of fact, certain sins are not sins at all, but instead they are actually indicators of a person's holiness. Sin is not to be overcome with the salvation of God's grace; instead sin is to be redefined, or failing that, it is to be ignored entirely. Gone is the tragedy of life, where human inclinations battle against duty, obligation, and eternity. The late thinker Alan Bloom summed up Nietzsche's Last Man when he commented that it wasn't the Last Man himself, but what he valued to be so nauseating. The Last Man transforms the world in order to live a comfortable, guilt-free, worry-free life. There is no Dark Night of the Soul, no Golgotha, no Heaven and no Hell. The confessional, like the revival tent, is so 19th century.

Of course, what Sullivan preaches is nihilism. Behind his easy language, his own take on Christian theology that promises a Christ without the Cross and salvation without sin is an abyss. This abyss is a pit of pointlessness. Five hundred years of Enlightenment thought is reduced to: Anything goes. And if the Church stands in the way of this moral free-for-all, well there is always the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

I think Shakespeare captures the modern despair that awaits those who choose to follow Sullivan's path when he wrote:

"There would have been a time for such a word. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
-- JP

Mr. Sullivan is very intelligent; we cannot argue that. It appears he believes that by the Church defining homosexuality as an abomination, it is directly attacking him. The Church, however, is rejecting what he does, which is practice sodomy, not who he is. It loves the sinner, but hates his sin because it brings death to his soul, which God and therefore His Church, loves. Mr. Sullivan wants the Church to change its teaching, which he says threatens him. It appears, then, that he identifies more strongly with what he does (sodomy), than with what he pretends to believe (Catholicism). I would say, then, that Mr. Sullivan's true religion may be Sodomy, to which he is trying to evangelize Catholicism. You're wrong, prodigal son. Come home.
-- John Duckett

A very well-written article by Andrew Newman, exposing the hypocrisy of Andrew Sullivan. And what a shamelessly pathetic attempt of Sullivan to try and wear Martin Luther's "Here I stand, I can do no other" mantra. Luther stood for what Scripture clearly teaches: that a sinner is saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Conversely, Andrew Sullivan is acting upon his subjective feelings, and against Holy Writ.

At the root of Sullivan's problem is his taking a well-known term, "Christian," and redefining it to suit his own purposes. I remember in a 1998 Nightline interview, he was debating a Christian activist, Janet Folger (full disclosure: my former boss), on whether or not gays could change through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Folger spoke first, and Sullivan responded with these words: "Well, I'm a Christian, too." He did this to blunt anything his opponent had to say on the subject.

Problem: the Bible, God's inspired Word to those who follow Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 3:16), condemns homosexuality in very clear, unambiguous terms. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, the Apostle Paul listed a number of sins which would prohibit persons from entering the kingdom of God, including homosexuality. In verse 11, Paul then states, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (Emphasis added)

The inference is strong: a practicing homosexual must repent, and receive forgiveness when he believes in Jesus Christ, who is faithful to forgive (1 John 1:8-9).

For that reason, Andrew Sullivan is not a Christian who is seeking to free Christianity from the clutches of a few radical "Christianists," who, by the way, are merely guilty of getting like-minded people to the polls on election day. It is Sullivan who is the hijacker. Like the modern leadership of the Episcopal church, he is trying to start a new religion that calls itself "Christian" but is something else entirely.
-- Greg Hoadley
Deerfield Beach, Florida

I read with interest R. Andrew Newman's piece on Andrew Sullivan. It made me wish to relate some experiences I have had when discussing things with Mr. Sullivan on his website, some observations I have made, and some conclusions I have arrived at concerning him.

To put it bluntly, Mr. Sullivan is a prancing, preening, solipsistic, narcissist. Have you ever noticed how every issue comes down to everybody on the planet having to change in order to accommodate Andrew's feelings? Humanity is supposed to jettison several thousand years of common sense about marriage because Andrew wants to marry his boyfriend. Catholics are supposed to ditch almost two thousand years of faith and doctrine because Andrew wants to marry his boyfriend. People with large families are supposed to give up SUVs to please Andrew who won't ever have a large family because Andrew wants to marry his boyfriend. I sense a pattern here.

Sullivan has a clever con going where he bills himself as a "Conservative" and gets gigs on Liberal TV shows where he plays the role of the "honest and principled Tory" delivering up the ritual anti-Bush diatribes. He has some British editors convinced he actually knows something about America and he writes columns about the American scene.

Andrew isn't shy about displaying his immense "knowledge." During the Terry Schiavo case, he scored a trifecta of ignorance in multiple disciplines when he declared that a simple feeding tube was "advanced life support," that starvation was a merciful way to die, and that some podunk probate judge had the unquestioned constitutional authority to pass a death sentence on a person who had never committed a crime. I find it rather rich that one who is on extensive medical therapy for his own illness has the chutzpah to call a simple feeding tube "advanced life support," that one whose website is constantly filled with tales of the pain suffered by those with AIDS would dare call involuntary starvation merciful, and that one who incessantly bleats about the fate of al Qaeda murderers would have the unmitigated gall to call for an innocent woman's death.

Sullivan's debate technique is simply to avoid debate altogether by putting forth one unsupported assertion after another as if they were facts. When someone dares to challenge these "facts," Andrew gets ugly and starts the ad hominem attacks with the usual strawmen: racists, homophobes, religious fundamentalists, bigots, etc., that seem to make up the non-Sullivan populace. Once, when I pointed out to him his errors about the Geneva Convention, his reply was "you sicken me." Gee, how intellectual.

Andrew's most despicable venture into moral relativism occurred this week when the mutilated bodies of the two American soldiers were found. Sullivan proclaimed that it was only to be expected that the enemy would ratchet up their level of barbarism to match ours, that we had lost the "moral high ground" that was the purpose of the Geneva Convention, and that we had no right to complain about this atrocity. No, Andrew, the Geneva Convention was not designed to give you "good feelings" of being morally superior. It was designed to reward those who fight for nation-states, and to severely punish thugs and terrorists like al Qaeda members who don't.

Readers might try going over to his blog site to see if he will come down off of his cross long enough to reply to your letters. It happens occasionally, but he's usually answering some fawning fan letter, talking about his Beagle, or relating his feelings.
-- Timothy L. Huettner, M.D.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

"Guilty" -- I love Jesus, my family, President Bush, the U.S. military and America. Sorry Andrew, "I'm not going away nor am I joining the other slaves on your liberal plantation."
-- Michael Tomlinson
Curtis Bay, Maryland

Thank you for this article, Mr. Newman. I'm wondering where Andrew Sullivan gets his moral authority? Is he God? It's very easy to justify one's sin and then try to get others to go along with your view. It's easy for man to continue to devalue God's authority. But I can guarantee just because man tries to make deals or justify his sin -- God doesn't change His mind. Sin is sin -- no matter what man calls it. I'm not bashing homosexuals -- I'm speaking of ALL sin. We try to justify our sins every day, by making deals with God, running from God, putting up fronts, comparing ourselves to others to make us feel better -- the only thing is God knows our hearts. He wants us to come to him with repentant hearts, so we acknowledge our faults, then we can grow closer to the person God wants us to become and continue to have a relationship with him. God doesn't take away the consequences of our own actions, but He does lead us to grow. Abraham sinned & continued to have faith in God. God didn't hate him, God loved Abraham -- but that did not mean that Abraham did not have to suffer the consequences of his actions. God is sovereign and he continued to bless Abraham when he repented and chose to follow God. Just as Christ knew not all would follow him. That does not mean Christ hated those that did not follow -- He knew that man has free will. There may come a time in their life that they will choose to believe. Christ did not change God's Will to conform to man desires -- Christ changed man's heart to conform to God's Will. But man needs to realize ALL choices he makes will have consequences. God's view of sin will never change no matter how hard man tries to justify it. So I guess Mr. Sullivan would consider me a "Christianist." So call me what you want -- my faith is in God and His Authority, not man's justifications. Thank you for your time.
-- Kathy

Mr. Andrew Sullivan is obviously hijacking the name "Catholic" while doing everything in his power to prove that he is not. I seem to remember a Bible verse about those whose "glory is their shame." The point he makes about not bearing false witness to "who he is" is quite interesting, and disingenuous. Rephrase that to "who (and what) he CHOOSES TO BE," and he'd be far closer to the truth. As a typical, so-called Catholic (actually a "Catholic" know-nothing who speaks from the fullness of his ignorance), he ought to sit down and read the first chapter of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. Not the whole epistle, mind you, just the first chapter. God did not make us evil, and to do evil. He originally made us good, and we freely chose evil. That has been the teaching of the Church since Day One. God did not make you gay, sir; you chose that sinful behavior for yourself, because you love yourself with a very disordered love, and you do not love God. Remember the first question in the Baltimore Catechism: Why are we here? To know, love and serve God in this life, so as to be happy with Him in the next. Try putting God and His Commandments first, rather than your perverted passions. You'll be better off for it.
-- Bob Schwartz
Buffalo, New York

Perhaps it's best summed up thusly: there are those who seek to be reconciled to God, and there are those who seek to reconcile God to themselves. Those who seek reconciliation to God through Christ, and seek to be remade in the image of God, are Christians. Those who seek to remake God in their image are liberal Christians-in-name-only.

Anyone who discounts Christ's sacrifice and intercession with God, and instead lectures God about how they have taken the liberty to tell Him what He should, and should not, take offense at, or more accurately, what His divine plan and design for humans ought really to be, is treading on very dangerous territory. If one is not to have any god before Him, how scandalous then to presume to be His god. Anyone doing such a thing is either a lunatic fanning the flames of Hell or is a closet atheist who wants to hijack Christianity to tame it and to use its assets for the pursuit of whatever "social justice" happens to be at the time.
-- D. Lewis
McKenzie, Tennessee

R. Andrew Newman does his Red State roots proud. I grow more and more weary of gays thundering about the bigotry of conservatives because we disagree with them on gay marriage.

Does not our Constitution grants us all the right of free speech? What about freedom of thought?

Andrew Sullivan reminds me of another "gay conservative" who became so verklempt with the right over homosexuality he converted to liberalism -- anyone else recall David Brock? Homosexuals are always gay first and insist on viewing the world through that prism. Who cares what they do in their bedrooms?

I am beginning to think "gay conservative" is an oxymoron.
-- Judy Beumler

Re: Sullivan's latest jab at conservative Christians; Now I remember why I no longer subscribe to Time magazine.
-- G. Wardle

Re: Jay D. Homnick's California on Four Billion Dollars:

It doesn't matter whether "nuptials" is plural or singular. The verb in Homnick's sentence is "was," and the referent subject is "cause," so it was correct the way he wrote it.
-- Howard Hirsch
Dayton, Nevada

In the column, "California on Four Billion Dollars," Jay Homnick wrote the following two sentences:

The proximate cause of my peregrinations was the nuptials on Monday evening of a great friend of this column, Barry Ingber. (Note to purists: If "nuptials" is the singular, then "was" is correct in that sentence.)

The first sentence was correct, but his defense of it in the parenthetical sentence was not. The 'was' in the first sentence is singular because the subject of the sentence, 'cause', is singular, not because of the word 'nuptials".
-- Marco Pizer

Re: Friday's edition of

As I read through the various articles on Friday's menu, I was tempted to write in response to several of them. As usual, I resisted the temptation until I had finished perusing the entire slate of offerings. It was then that I seemed to detect a common thread running through the lot of them.

The thread that I detected is that America is no more. Oh, there is still a land mass with a significant population in the geographical place the we used to call America, but America is gone. The articles of belief and principles of government upon which this once great country was founded, are not only no longer cherished by a majority of the populace, they are actively derided and declared evil.

Mr. Orlet makes a convincing case for the notion that the United States and it's citizens are reviled in just about every corner of the world, even though we have spent huge amounts of our blood and treasure to help these same nations and peoples. But most importantly, Mr. Orlet makes a convincing case for the proposition that the majority of our own citizens now look on our leaders as antagonistic to their beliefs and interests. If I were Ann Coulter, I would aver that we have become a nation of wimpy little appeasing cowards with the attention spans of a two year old spoiled brat. Entirely too many of our citizens consider it too difficult and painful to smack the bullies upside the head with a 2X4 and force them to go pick on someone else.

Mr. Newman next takes up the gauntlet and discusses Mr. Sullivan's crusade to totally redefine Christianity and to orchestrate a set of rules that will remove the entire body of traditional Christian religion and principles from our public spaces. (And probably private also as the next step.) Folks, like it or not, America was founded as a Christian nation that consciously would allow the adherents of any other religion extant in the world to worship according to their own rules and practices within our borders. Regardless of the new history, all of our founding fathers were non-pacifist Christians. America was birthed and baptized in the blood of revolution and war. Many of those that took up arms were non-Christians that came on board because of their soon to be right to worship in their own way. Nevertheless, no one would have seriously considered the possibility of banning Christianity from the public square. And yes, that does include the moral codes that formed the basis of the Judeo-Christian Bible.

Next, Mr. Hogberg discusses the attempt by a craft union, the American Medical Association, to convince the federal government to force, yes force, our citizens to spend their own legally earned money in a particular way that would benefit the membership of said union. The scary thing is that we have one of the two large political parties that favors this very proposal, and some in the other party that do also. We also have respectable, supposedly, groups telling us what we should eat in order that we shall weigh what they think we should weigh. These same groups demonize parents that dare to feed their own children in a manner that the food fanatics do not approve. Other groups have succeeded in forcing the secession of usage of a legal product (tobacco) in public, but do not have the courage to fight to get the produce declared illegal. Now the push in on to restrict the public from using the product in their own homes or cars. These same groups seem to see nothing wrong in smoking marijuana. Consistency, they do not know the concept. I could go on and on with examples of groups attempting, successfully or not, to force free adult citizens to alter, restrict, or cease legal behavior. Was America founded on the idea of a nanny state with groups of elite snobs and do-gooders telling everyone else what to do? Does no one remember the experience we had with allowing a bunch of do-gooders to tell adult Americans what they could and could not drink in the first half of the 20th Century? Has it become against the law for people to mind their own business?

I will wrap up our tour de force with Mr. Tooley's article chronicling the efforts of one religious denomination to force a change of self--defense strategies by a sovereign nation half a world away. True Mr. Tooley mentions that other groups were, to one degree or another, trying to achieve the same ends, but he concentrates on the one group that traveled furthest down the road. So here in the United States, we have a religious group that insists on their right to worship as they please and transact church business with equality under the law, yet they are quite content to violate one of the founding principles, the principle of mind your own business.

I could go on citing examples of the ways that America has strayed from the founding principles until this became the length of a master's level thesis, but I am already overlong. My point being that, since I am well into the senior citizen category, every day I see another of America's founding ideas and ideals being left by the wayside, while a huge percentage of our citizens race full bore toward a utopian Socialism -= precisely what people came here to escape for the better part of four centuries. Damn shame! I am glad that I will not be here to see the final governmental decree when that once great idea called America is officially declared null and void.
-- Ken Shreve
Proud to be an old timey American

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Lords of Self-Discipline:

During WWII our Lefties were on board because we were allied with the USSR. If Roosevelt had not taken this tack (in my view, a disastrous and amoral decision) you can be certain that the oppositionists would have had much the same stridence as we see today, modified for the lesser extent to which the Democrats were explicitly socialist.
-- Ken Watson

Your column falls below even your usually low standards for rhetorical honesty and competence. To compare Bush to Roosevelt and the mess in Iraq to WWII fails at the outset. Their are simply no parallels between either the men or the conflicts. I could spend all day shooting holes in your thesis, but two large caliber shots will suffice. First FDR was elected 4 times by overwhelming majorities. Bush has possibly been elected once by the thinnest of pluralities. Second WWII was a fight for national survival, Iraq is a personal vendetta by Bush and his paranoid cronies against the "man that tried to kill my daddy." All conclusions drawn from your base comparison are null and void, but you know that. You are being deliberately dishonest in order to make money by the rhetorical equivalent of throwing feces from your cage of indefensible "conservatism" at moral, informed and patriotic Americans. Remember that you will be called to account for your actions on this earth. I will pray for you.
-- B. Gantt
Jacksonville, Florida

I agree with Mr. Tyrrell's musings regarding Mr. Rumsfeld, and write to add that perhaps it's time Mr. Bush started penning the narrative citation for his beleaguered but constant SecDef's Medal of Freedom.
-- J. C. Eaton
Chetek, Wisconsin

Re: Paul Beston's Where's the Outrage?:

Various media outlets have been stating, "The two American soldiers who were captured by the insurgents were, tortured and slaughtered like farm animals." There is something that is very wrong with that statement. Because farm animals that are to be slaughtered for food are treated with much more dignity and humility than what was offered from the depraved barbarity that those two American soldiers had to suffer through from the Islamic jihadists who desecrated those soldiers bodies so severely that it took DNA samples to identify them.

I personally hold the President and the Congress of the United States personally responsible in shackling our servicemen and servicewomen with a ball and chain in their ability to adequately defend themselves before the enemy. In a civilized society we at least allow animals to have a sporting chance at defending themselves for their survival, but it is unconscionable in why our nation's leaders will not give our brave men and women that same sporting chance to preserve their survival on the battlefield.

I have but one question to ask our leaders, "Why Mr. President do you burden our troops with cumbersome rules of engagement that benefit the enemy more than the servicemen? Why Congressman Murtha, do you publicly call our Marines murderers but you stay silent when the Islamic jihadists butcher our brave soldiers? And you Senator Kerry, you want us to run away like scared cowards that are afraid our shadows."

As a retired United States Marine who fought to free Kuwait, all that my brothers and sisters in arms ever wanted was the support of our country. Not the support of a red or blue state, but the support of all Americans. Everything else was secondary; all we wanted was support from...home.
-- Melvin L. Leppla, SSgt., USMC, Ret.
Jacksonville, North Carolina

Re: Peter Hannaford's Btflspk, Is That You?:

It may be that some of your readers don't know how to fight fire with fire. I can usually get through to a human within 45 seconds using the following method:

"Hello, this is your friendly, personal bank speaking. Please speak your account number, or enter it on the keypad."

(Speaking) "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Please try again."

(Speaking) "Spongebob Squarepants."

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Please try again."

(Speaking) "Jethro Bodine."

"Sorry, I still don't understand. In a moment, I'll connect you with an account representative."

Of course, if the android asks for a spoken or spelled name, reciting pi to fifteen digits is a good approach. And if all else fails, improvised King-Kong style grunts and howls will break through to the manual system.
-- Bob Danielson

Re: B. Larsen's letter "Stay Home, America" in Reader Mail's Outrage Outage:

Do not want to get into a spitting contest with B. Larsen over Ben Stein's article but I think he/she missed his meaning. He just wants us to know that whether we are saving lives, reading a book, running errands we do so because our soldiers are standing watch. If we do not at least say a silent "thank you" we are failing in our duty...our duty to be the same country they left. We are a messy bunch here in the U.S. and our soldiers love us for it. I've been overseas a couple of times. I didn't crave caviar; I craved peanut butter and a good old American hamburger. Our soldiers just want us to continue to be here waiting with our burgers and our sodas and our hugs and our eternal gratefulness
-- unsigned

Re: Mark Gauvreau Judge's Doubting Coulter -- At First:

How can a writer make such basic grammatical errors? I was reading the article "Doubting Coulter -- At First" and couldn't help be distracted by blatant writing errors:

1. "Me and a group of buddies" should read "a group of buddies and I."

2. "That is a silent place of pain between us and God"; should read "that is a silent place of pain between God and us."

Come on! Please set an educated precedent for your readers.
-- K. Donahue
P.S. Should I bother to mention that the double dash in the title should be an em dash?

Re: "Spot On" letters in Reader Mail's The Ditsy Clucks, Liver Spots, and The New Terminators:

"Oh, I don't know, you know, don't you know."
Young Bertram's dialog would vacantly show
The depth of his conceptual puzzling ability,
Though he shone at the Drone's with the lesser nobility.

Count me as one with Diane, Mike and Ken
In search of the mot most bon where and when
It seems only right to come up with a good word
That would satisfy even Jims Bono and Woodward.

Fellow lovers of old fashioned literature,
Though our outlooks may be a little mature,
The modern glitterati we should take on,
As our literary instincts seem to be spot on!
--Mimi Evans Winship

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article