The Spectacle Blog

A New Chapter for Robert Sloan

By on 8.2.06 | 9:40PM

The cat is out of the bag. Robert Sloan is likely leaving the chancellor's office at Baylor to become the next president of Houston Baptist University. For those who have forgotten the story, Sloan resigned the presidency at Baylor after controversy over his rapid implementation of the Baylor 2012 vision. Debates raged at Baylor (and still do) over the desirability of integrating faith and learning. More prosaic matters were also involved, such as whether Baylor should build a $100 million science facility (which it did under Sloan's direction).

Houston Baptist is much smaller than Baylor, but it has some advantages. First off HBU has a board that has seen exactly what Robert Sloan does with a university and wants his leadership. Second, Sloan gets to do his thing at a school in a major metropolitan area. That means a setting very congenial to recruiting students and faculty and holding conferences. It also means going to work in the midst of a very large and thriving evangelical community in Houston.

Our Bureaucratic Health Care System

By on 8.2.06 | 4:29PM

Our health care system is plagued by bureaucracy, both in the government and the private sector. Having for years been accustomed to the third-party payer system, much the private sector has created structures designed to hold down costs and wring more dollars out of the federal and state governments.

Hospitals are one example of this. As we turn to a more consumer-oriented system with the adoption of health savings accounts, hospitals are struggling to adapt. Holman Jenkins has a great article on this in today's WSJ (subscription required). Here are a few snippets:

No Gibson for Me

By on 8.2.06 | 12:08PM

It may have been easier for me to overlook the anti-Semitic comments Mel Gibson made in his recent drunken tirade had this been an isolated incident, but given that it has been a part of a pattern for him, most glaringly with his failure to distance himself from his father’s hateful comments several years ago, it’s much harder for me to dismiss. Do I claim, based on his drunken antics, to know what Gibson really feels in his heart and soul? No. However, there is enough out there to make me uncomfortable with the idea of helping to further line Gibson’s pockets with money. I’m not going to get too gassed up about the matter, because Gibson is a Hollywood actor whose words don’t have much of an impact on my life. But I don’t plan on seeing any Gibson films in the future.

A Christian Take on Mel Gibson

By on 8.2.06 | 10:45AM

As a Christian, I will always be grateful to Mel Gibson for The Passion of the Christ. Throughout my life I've taken in the various attempts to portray different portions of the life of Jesus and have always been left just a little underwhelmed. The Passion struck deep and hard. I think every Christian believer who saw the film could say, "This is the story of my Lord. This is the cost of sin and the price of justice and holiness."

I am also grateful for the lasting value of art, because if Gibson were a politician, rather than an artist, he would have thrown away everything he'd built in one rage-filled gesture. Instead, the work stands and will remain a defining portrayal of Gospel events for many years.

Re: Is It Possible To Become A Self-Parody?

By on 8.1.06 | 11:22PM

In fact, for some of us entering academia, the lack of common ground with Columbia's English Department (or Duke's, for that matter) is worth a moan as well as a groan. Even a harmlessly failed department at our proudest institutions of elite learning hurts the culture at large. And I don't mean conservative culture, or that only -- I mean western culture, which, again, has been big enough to contain multitudes certainly since Jerusalem met Athens. A proper intellectual conservative ought to not just stomach this but savor it. I think it's Thomas Sowell who drives his students up a wall by leaving them stumped by semester's end as to how he "really feels" about Marx.

Is It Possible To Become A Self-Parody?

By on 8.1.06 | 5:59PM

Over at TNR, Jonathan Chait criticizes the producers of a new Fall TV show starring Calista Flockhart that tries to portray conservatives in a sympathetic light:

Well, God bless them. Unfortunately, I think they have a ways to go before they understand conservatism.

After showing how the producers misunderstand William F. Buckley, he concludes:

I will say this, though, on behalf of my earnest, benighted liberal friends: At least they're trying….

But where are the right's efforts at outreach? You don't hear conservatives mourning their lack of common ground with the English department at Columbia University. In fact, it's incredibly rare to find a conservative who understands liberalism as anything other than hatred for the rich and a desire to hand over our foreign policy to the United Nations.

Winning, apparently, gives conservatives the luxury of not having to care what the other side thinks.

Rocky Mountain High

By on 8.1.06 | 5:04PM

John Denver was right. Though I think he was referring to his euphoria rather than the altitude. But at 7000-plus feet, Pagosa Springs, Colorado drove his point home. It really is harder to breathe.

Sitting in the Albuquerque airport (they call it a "Sunport" -- heh), I am struck again by how big the West is. Virginia is beautiful, but with small rolling hills and mini-ranches. In many ways, northern New Mexico and southwest Colorado are even bigger than my erstwhile home state of Montana. Montana has lovely broad valleys meeting dramatically large mountains, but it feels so much tamer. Missoula's altitude is 3000 feet, and the Treasure State has few peaks over 10,000 feet. Heck, you'll regularly hit 8000 feet in Colorado, and the mountain passes climb above 10,000. And instead of the glacially carved valleys, life feels all the more precarious in Colorado's narrow valleys. These folks see well over 100 inches of snow in the winter -- next to that, western Montana seems downright tropical.