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Revenge of the Methodists

Inclusiveness, not God, grows membership. Also: the Spectator Rifle Club, Lou's blue, Dubya's dandy, Iowa lessons, and much more!

9.1.05

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THE CHURCH STRIKES BACK
Re: David Holman's Madison Avenue Methodism:

I take exception to David Holman's allegation that the United Methodist Church lacks a strong message or conviction.

The United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant denomination, appealing to 8.3 million members in the United States and over 11 million globally. We are pleased that our message of inclusiveness is reaching people in a time when many Christian groups and religious organizations are viewed as being exclusive. The United Methodist Church works to be faithful to Jesus by encouraging its members and friends to demonstrate a spirit of welcome.

The goal of the UMC advertising campaign is to reach youths and adults who are not currently exposed to church but are open to attending, whether or not they choose to become members. Our ads educate these Americans about the core attributes and beliefs of the UMC. Since the UMC launched its advertising campaign in 2001, first-time attendance is up 19 percent at the 164 churches surveyed while overall worship attendance has increased by 9 percent.

The UMC chose to relaunch the campaign because of its success in opening our doors to the unchurched. Over 72 percent of UMC pastors surveyed recommended that the UMC allocate funds to continue the initiative; 67 percent believe their congregation has become more welcoming since the campaigns aired; and 66 percent said congregants are now more active in inviting unchurched to attend.

The United Methodist Church's advertising campaign speaks to many different people on a variety of levels based upon their current church experience, or lack thereof. Our advertising messages utilize real people in real-life situations to make the point that no matter where one might be along the path toward faith in Christ, they need not make the journey alone.
-- The Rev. Larry Hollon
General Secretary, United Methodist Communications

David Holman replies:
I'm happy to see the good Rev. Hollon's response. Unfortunately, his letter is more of the same from the United Methodist Church: bland Christianity. I'm disappointed Rev. Hollon didn't follow through on his first paragraph and offer a strong message of conviction. He presents a regurgitated press release and the message of inclusion. Using inclusion as your guiding principle leaves very few positions against the prevailing culture. In other words, if you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.

HILLARY DOWN THE AISLE
Re: George Neumayr's The Abortifacient Aisle:

Thank you so much for the article on the Plan B pill and Hillary Clinton. It's amazing how far elected officials will go to further their power at the expense of a human life. Some day they will be held accountable. Clinton's and others are so power hungry that they will stop at nothing and they prove it every day. I've e-mailed this article to many friends and I know they will forward to many others. Thanks for your work.
-- Kathy Fenton
Peoria, Arizona

DOBBSING FOR APPLES
Re: Charles Simpson's Clueless Lou:

Since I decided many years ago that television watching is not worth squandering one's precious time, I cannot, and will not, comment on the accuracy of Mr. Simpson's criticism of Lou Dobbs's economic forecasting. Let it be said, however, that informed people have repeatedly pointed out that portions of the "outsourcing" of U.S. jobs has been artfully hidden -- with the issuance of special visas, for example -- which provides a very distorted picture about how "little" outsourcing there really is. The U.S. computer industry's apparent inability to reduce structural unemployment is duly accountable to such devious, and accepted, strategies of "greedy corporations." Still, Mr. Dobbs serves a very important purpose.

If Mr. Simpson can legitimately criticize Mr. Dobbs for his economic nescience, he cannot deny that Dobbs has been a beacon of light in another area: calling the public's attention to the ravages, physical, economic and political, that unenforced immigration laws have had on this country. Nowhere can one find more comprehensive information about the destructive nature of illegal immigration in any form of media. Aside from the Washington Times, every major newspaper in this nation has either steadfastly refused to cover the topic of the baleful effect of such immigration, or believes that, if it must be reported on, it can be consigned to a small footnote to any article "celebrating" the wonders of multiculturalism. In Dobbs one is at least presented with the facts at issue in dealing with illegal immigration, and that may explain why his program is popular.

So even without a television set, I, for one, believe that Mr. Dobbs is doing this country a major service. And I would bet that there are tens of millions of other U.S. citizens who feel the same way.
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

Multiple thumbs-up to Charles Simpson for his elegant, well-written dismantling of CNN's resident socialist, Lou Dobbs. As a professional who is well-read in capitalism and free market economic thinking by Friedman, Sowell, Williams, von Mises, Hayek, Rothbard and many others, I will occasionally turn over to the Communist News Network to get a chuckle or two from the pasty-faced Dobbs's latest anti-free market and anti-capitalism rants. He never fails to amuse me.

Perhaps some day we'll be able to enjoy the scene of Dobbs and Paul Krugman walking hand in hand into the sunset... and off the edge of a cliff. With the way the two of them twist and distort economics, statistics and, above all, the truth, it'll only be fitting and proper.
-- Jim Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

Charles is so right to call on the hypocritical Lou Dobbs -- he seems to have been indoctrinated by the CNN culture instead of thinking independently. However, here's an excerpt from his Newsletter that he sends to his paying "capitalist" subscribers:

"As you're probably well aware, the market has just come through a generally stellar earnings season. And right now, it seems that companies in most sectors are well-positioned to continue their recent growth..."

It seems he separates his opinions to suit his audience -- typical Liberal!

Thanks Charles for bringing this twit to our attention!
-- Elise
Chicago, Illinois

RIGHT ON
Re: Philip Klein's The Quagmire Quagmire:

The Dems have been in a quagmire since Clinton started chasing interns. They have been shown to have absolutely no ideas as to how to solve any of our problems, and have shown themselves subservient to outside influence more than constitutional integrity. Most of their big guns are getting mighty old and there really is no new blood coming in that can hold a candle to the new young conservatives taking over. Doesn't really matter what people say about Bush since he is much more preferable to what any Democrat has to offer. That goes for Congress also. There is a new breeze blowing in D.C. Like those hurricanes that are scouring the South now, this breeze is going to scour the old tired failed ideas of the socialists away. Sheehan, who is the media darling at present, has turned more people pro-war than even Bush has been able to convince. Likewise, all those mealy-mouthed whiny Democrats are turning people off even more. So, to all you liberals, read between the lines in your own polls. While you're gloating at the surface results, there is an undercurrent there that is going to defeat you just like in the last elections. Mr. Klein has it right.
-- Pete Chagnon

SURRENDER HISTORY
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's A City of Infamy:

My late father was a plank owner (original crewmember) on the USS Iowa. Sixty years ago today the Iowa was in Tokyo Bay and he was part of the occupying force on the IJS Nagato which signified the surrender of the Imperial Japanese Navy. I'm sure he would not be surprised by the goings-on in the City by the Bay.

My dad always insisted that if FDR had been alive, chances are the surrender would have been on the Iowa. However, with FDR's death, that nuke-dropping, piano-playing Missourian Truman became president and the Show Me State's namesake ship became the surrender site.

My father (a lifelong Republican from Massachusetts!) used to joke that he actually mourned FDR's death for that reason and that reason alone.
-- Mike Haire
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

THE TAS RIFLE CLUB?
Re: Alfred S. Regnery's No Strings Attached:

I found Mr. Regnery's article on Stradivarius violins to be very interesting. Obviously Mr. Antonio Stradivari was a master of his craft, without equal.

Providing evidence that God is a music-lover, it is quite possible that Mr. Stradivari lived in exactly the right time and place to make his masterpieces. I am referring to an article I saw recently that hypothesized that an unusual climate in Western Europe between 1645 and 1715 produced slow-growing trees, which, in turn, produced very dense wood. This dense wood, spruce in particular, was ideally-suited for making the most of Mr. Stradivari's skill. Or, more accurately, Mr. Stradivari made the most out of that fine wood.

Rifle aficionados are also fond of dense wood. Custom rifle builders seek out dense walnut with which to ply their trade. For the rifle maker this dense walnut is stronger, more stable, less prone to take in moisture, and is less likely to shift the rifle's point of impact than less select wood.

Such high-quality wood often exhibits a pattern of lines that run perpendicular to the grain of the wood and which "shimmy" in the light. These lines are known in the trade as "fiddleback," no doubt because they mimic the appearance of the back of a well-made fiddle/violin. In a properly laid-out rifle stock these lines are perpendicular to the barrel's axis.

Now that Mr. Regnery has practiced on a violin, perhaps it's time for him to devote his energy to a more noble pursuit. Specifically he could apply his (apparently considerable) woodworking talents to crafting a fine stock for The American Spectator First and Second Amendments Commemorative Rifle. He could start with a fine writer's block of walnut and craft it into something much mightier than any sword. For inspiration I refer him to the masters in this field at the American Custom Gunmaker's Guild.
-- R. Trotter
Arlington, Virginia

I was in Hartford, Connecticut, touring Mark Twain's house, and I asked the guide if that huge Steinway concert grand piano was original to the Clemens' household -- I was told it was. I guess Mr. Clemens was taken by the same social foibles he had ridiculed. What did he need a musical instrument meant to fill a concert auditorium with sound in his living room -- to rattle the window glass?

The time between the creation of the Cremona violins and today has seen a "revolution in musical affairs" where everything delicate -- the flute, the violin, the human voice -- has to be made bigger, bolder, and much louder. My flute teacher and maker of 18th century replica flutes shared his perspective on the Stradivarius violin.

The modern Stradivarius is a Victorian era conceit, much like Mark Twain's concert grand in the parlor. It is not the same instrument -- as created it was a Baroque instrument that had a very sweet, delicate sound but not suitable for the modern concert stage. The Stradivarius violins have the original bodies, but they have had the necks replaced and they have much heavier strings at much greater tension. It is a mystery as to why they sound and play as they do, and perhaps an accident of history that they weren't wrecked. It is like taking some classic British roadster, pulling the motor out, and sticking in a big V-8 for more power.

My informant had examined a Stradivarius and described it as rather slap-dash in construction compared to modern sensibilities where everything has to be made perfect. No one knows what makes a Stradivarius what it is, but after the style of some inhabitants of the Marshall Islands who used ritual to try to bring back the flow of U.S. war materiel, the "cargo cult" of instrument making is that if we could in some way replicate the exact dimensions, exact wood, exact glues and varnishes, we could make modern replicas of the Cremona violins. Mr. Regnery seems to fault himself for lacking in the precision craftsmanship to make this happen.

In flute making (the wooden conical bore one-key kind, not the modern cylinder bore metal multi-key kind), there is a process of tuning during the manufacture of the instrument, where material is shaved in key places from the bore in response to playing the instrument while placing a small wood plug down the bore to determine the sensitivity of the sound to a small change in the bore dimensions. One speculation is that the Cremona violins were pretty much just thrown together in order to use handwork to meet the demand, but the violin makers had some secrets lost to history as to how they tuned their creations by removing small amounts of wood from just the right places.

It is just so 21st century to think that modern craftsmanship is going to replicate those violins, or that the Stradivarius violin is anything the people who created it would even recognize.
-- Paul Milenkovic
Madison, Wisconsin

SHUSH ABOUT BUSH
Re: Bob Johnson's letter (under "Not Peaceful But Deceitful") in Reader Mail's Vouch Potatoes:

Sorry, Mr. Bob Johnson, Dubya is NOT a conservative Republican, no way! He had a wonderful moment after the 9-11 debacle and we were all proud.

But, before then (caving to Kennedy and steel tariffs among other things) and since, he's been an awful president -- hasn't vetoed humungous government spending and growth (and his Republican friends in Congress are as bad as the Democrats when it comes to wasting our taxpayer dollars, perhaps worse, 'cause there are more of 'em).

All you apologists for a totally inept GOP might hang your collective heads in shame; the lesser of evils and lack of principle is appalling!
-- Jonathan B. Frost
Texas

What the polls fail to show is why people do not approve of Bush. If I were to be polled, I would list myself as dissatisfied with Bush. But that's because I think he is a liberal in conservative's clothing.

On the other hand, I am convinced that the Democratic Party leadership would prefer disasters for the U.S. because it would increase their chances in the elections.
-- Yaakov "Jim" Watkins

PRAYERFUL SOPHISTICATION
Re: Paul Chesser's Divinely Naive:

The Duke University prayer researchers miss what the beautiful and divinely sophisticated Sister Gratia taught us in the fourth grade. It was 1940 in Sacred Heart School, Bayside, N.Y., when we learned prayer has four purposes: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. Four big words for the heart and soul of a nine-year-old, but easy to remember, she said, in order of importance by the acronym, ACTS. God bless you, Sister Gratia.
-- Herb Flanagan
Poughkeepsie, New York

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