Re: Reid Collins’s Michelle, Ma Belle:
Golf is the last refuge of integrity in sports. Players routinely disqualify themselves when they even think they might have made an error. It is a sport where fans watching on TV can and do call in to officials when the spot a rules violation. Mr. Bamberger, who is a former tour caddy, did nothing wrong. My only gripe is that he should have done it immediately so that Ms. Wie would only be assessed a two-stroke penalty instead of suffering the embarrassment of disqualification in her first professional event. However, ultimately the player and her caddy are responsible for adherence to the very complicated rules of the game.
Isn’t it strange that the violation was reported after play had ended on Sunday and not after he had paced it off on Saturday? It couldn’t have had anything to do with the impact it would have had on the TV audience that would have vanished if she were not playing on Sunday, could it?
— Harvey McCumber
Me thinks that the kicker writer at TAS is stuck in a 1970s time warp. The Sports Illustrated reporter who called out Michelle Wie is Michael Bamberger (as Reid Collins correctly noted in his column), not George Bamberger as the kicker line had it until corrected. George Bamberger was the pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles when they were managed by Earl Weaver in the 1970’s. This makes me hark back to the pre-Angelos glory of the O’s, but that’s for another day.
— Michael Palmer
The kicker writes replies: My thanks to Jim, er, Michael Palmer for catching that error (if I can mix things up further).
Re: Andrew Cline’s The Plantation Right:
Mr. Cline starts off with a very cogent point, one that I can agree with wholeheartedly. Then he takes off like a rabid fox or skunk completely ignoring facts and/or political reality. It is unusual how often that happens among the hard core super conservatives in New Hampshire.
Let me say up front that I could list a bunch of reasons that Tom DeLay should NOT be in the GOP leadership. Because the Dems say so in NOT one of those reasons. If Mr. DeLay were not so darned effective in hitting the Dems where it hurts, they would be content to simply let him go along with only minor sniping from time to time. He should NOT be ousted during or because of a Dem hissy fit.
Just in the last decade, the Dems have taken the scalps of Newt Gingrich, Rep. Livingston, and Trent Lott, all on trumped up garbage that the Dems themselves are doing. All this while their own folks are committing felonies and walking away clean, as in Rep. McDermott, just for one. Of course this is only possible with the full assistance of the DNC department known as “the media.”
I agree that the conservatives need to commit an overt act to get the GOP to quit taking them for granted. I agree that the GOP has, in large measure, abandoned its principles of frugality, efficiency, and merit for easy spending, growing the government, and cronyism under George Bush. We cannot, however, keep giving the Dems and radical liberalism cheap victories with our help. It might help if the GOP quit acting like Dem Lite and quit trying to get the Dems and the media to still love them in the morning.
Let us rescue Tom DeLay from the Dems, then slap him upside the head to get his attention and sit him among the back benchers until he learns his lesson. We don’t need the Dems to help us in this, and we darn sure don’t need to be helping the Dems to take down every right of center person that achieves a modicum of success.
— Ken Shreve
Andrew Cline is right on the money, as it were. It is also true on social issues. Speaking as a Pennsylvanian, we have seen good conservatives treated like dirt by the party establishment. No wonder Santorum is in trouble.
— Chris Fletcher
Cline accurately disjoins conservatism from Republicanism. There is really no difference between Bush I and Bush II. The latter wanted a “kinder, gentler nation,” and Bush II wanted “compassionate conservatism.” These are the same insult wrapped in different packages. In these politically correct times, when have you heard Bush II criticize anyone? Answer: the Minutemen (vigilantes) and the Anti-Miers (Mrs. W. and her sexist comment). While we were fortunate to have a wartime president when 9/11 hit, Roosevelt didn’t do too bad in WWII. Conservatives must not confuse our ideology with an opportunity to occasionally agree with W.
— William Dye
“If the base is not willing to hold party leaders accountable — by abandoning them if necessary — then they will quickly become the lapdogs of the Republican Party, stroked every now and then, but wholly controlled by their masters.”
The only problem I have with the above is where is there a choice. Sure I can just not vote, but I don’t want to hand power to the godless liberals. I call and write to my elected reps and tell them what I feel, but I am only one person. The President has totally let me down with his lack of border control and lack of pushing for the rule of law against those here illegally and not using the veto pen. I am so upset with Sen. Hutchison for voting against the troops and for the terrorists I could spit.
— Elaine Kyle
Your article about Catholic Ritual and Exorcisms was excellent. You are a great Catholic and a great reporter. Nice to see the media get it right for a change. (We can’t even count on O’Reilly to portray the church accurately!!) I thought the movie was very good and something the devil would not want people to see. I hope many that read your article will now go and see it. Now, from one orthodox Catholic to another, pray for this Eucharistic Synod coming to a close on Sunday, that great things will come of it. This Pope is the greatest! I am especially praying for a Universal Indult that any priest may be able to offer the 1962 Tridentine Mass and also that they may FINALLY end communion-in-the-hand. I hope you will pray for the Synod also. Thanks Again George!!!!
— Brigette Pietro
I am totally in agreement with Mr. Neumayr’s assessment of Europe’s slide to the dark side (or “Going to Hell,” as it were). My fellow townsman, Mr. Skurkiss, is also correct in his further evaluation of the problem facing the Continent, and quite frankly, us.
Allow me, then, to pose this question. How many of you out there have heard your priest, minister or rabbi mention ANYTHING about the Devil from the pulpit as of late? I certainly haven’t. It has been years since the priests at my local parish have had anything to say about Satan, as they prefer to gloss things over in any mention of the evil that faces the world. The Devil has been minimalized as far as mainstream religion is concerned, and, in their opinion, he apparently has no influence on our daily lives. And the Main Stream Media isn’t any better. I remember Time magazine a number of years ago showing a dejected-looking demon on its blood-red cover with an accompanying article of Satan’s “rehabilitation” by Christian churches. Basically, the Head Demon has been emasculated and he no longer has the power to corrupt and damage our lives. How wrong they were (and are)!
Mr. Skurkiss is correct — the Devil plays for keeps, and those who are unwilling to accept that concept are in danger of being lost forever.
— James J. Bjaloncik
This pretty much sums it up for me, from Romans 1:21-25:
…Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
— Kevin W.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Re: Shawn Macomber’s The Fourth Wall:
Regarding Shawn Macomber’s article The Fourth Wall, it seems that the wacko left is a bit confused. For years the left has been bleating about the wonders of multiculturalism, and the glory of “celebrating our differences.” And for all those years conservatives have been warning about multiculturalism’s balkanization of society, and the danger of emphasizing ethnic group-think over national unity. Yet now, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour is critical of the ethnic divisions in Iraq. Shouldn’t she instead be celebrating the ethnic multiculturalism on display in Iraq? Is the left really so block-headed as to be unable to understand that that is precisely what they have been trying to foster in America?
— Mr. Kim Weissman
EAGLES VS. IRISH
Re: David Thomas Murphy’s letter (under “I Want My Car TV”) in Reader Mail’s The Devil’s Details:
Allow me to thank Notre Dame Nation citizen David Murphy for his piqued response to my letter about the ’93 Championship That Got Away. I have found over the years that special quality of agitated ND condescension toward BC to be both every bit as intractable as the “football envy” toward ND with which Eagles fans are supposedly afflicted, and frankly more entertaining than the classic contest itself. That said, in my defense against the envy charge, if it were true, then I surely wouldn’t have failed ’til now to note the four consecutive BC wins over ND to conclude the teams’ latest series last year (chuckle, chuckle!).
— Francis M. Hannon, Jr.
POTTER’S CHRISTIAN JOY
Re: Mike Lopke’s letter (under “Dirty Harry”) in Reader Mail’s The Devil’s Details, David Haddon’s Child-on-Child Crime, the “Row Over Rowling” letters in Reader Mail’s The New Inclusiveness and the “Defending Hogwarts” letters in Reader Mail’s Flat Truths:
With regard to Mike Lopke’s apparent attempt at insight, it would be more correct to say that attacks by erstwhile Christians on Harry Potter books receives such a strong negative response from other Christians because there are still a significant number of us who agree with C.S. Lewis that the greatest problem with Christianity today is the desire of some people to suck all the joy out of it.
That in itself is just a symptom of a greater problem within Christianity today, namely the fact that it is gravely misunderstood by many of those who consider themselves to be “good” Christians. These people tend to think of the Gospel as a moral code, of Christianity being a matter of “following the rules,” and salvation a matter of avoiding sins and staying out of hell.
This approach tends to reduce Christianity to a matter of religion. But as the great Orthodox theologian, Fr. Alexander Schmemann frequently wrote, Christianity is not a religion — it is, he said, either the end of religion or the challenge to all religions, because in contrast to religion, Christianity does not attempt to erect a mediating structure between man and the divine, but offers man the opportunity to speak directly with God, indeed, to share in the divine nature itself. As St. Athanasius the Great put it, “God became man so that man might become god.” This is a process that the Greek Fathers knew as theosis, or deification. Having put on Christ through baptism and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, man’s true nature is restored, and he has the potential to become by grace what Christ is by nature–a son of God. Christianity is thus nothing short of “new life in Christ,” a new way of being human, a return to that which man was meant to be.
The Gospel, therefore, is not merely a moral code, but a royal proclamation (the literal meaning of the Greek “evangelion”) of this truth, succinctly contained in the Orthodox Paschal Troparion: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tomb bestowing life.” The ultimate purpose of Christian life is not blind obedience to “the rules” — for if that were the case, then Paul would not have stressed repeatedly that the Law kills, while the Spirit gives life — but rather transfiguration (a word that features heavily in both Eastern Christian theology and Harry Potter), man becoming, through divine grace, the image and likeness of God as manifested in God’s Only-Begottten Son.
Most Christians either gloss over this aspect, or in fact invert it. To them, the purpose of Christianity is to be “good,” and therefore win a reward. The rules are exteriorized, and obedience to them is supposed to conform one to the Christian ideal (though what that ideal is supposed to be, other than some form of bland conformism, usually goes unstated). In fact, it is through baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we are infused with the grace that in turn causes us to want to be more like Christ, to conform our will to that of the Father.
Which, then, brings us briefly to Harry Potter. Contrary to what Mr. Haddon stated in his initial article, the Potter books are infused with both Christian imagery and Christian theology — that Mr. Haddon is incapable of recognizing it says more about Haddon’s unfamiliarity with the Christian Tradition than it does for J.K. Rowling’s alleged flirtation with occultism — in the same way that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is infused with Christian imagery and theology, though neither Rowling nor Tolkien speaks explicitly about Christ nor falls into the sin of allegory. Mr. Haddon, and Mr. Lopke should endeavor to read some of the books that have been written about the Christian roots of Rowling’s works — and Tolkien’s, too, for that matter (one wonders how Mr. Haddon or Mr. Lopke would encounter Milton).
The Potter books, like Lord of the Rings, are stories of sin and redemption, and above all, of transfiguration. Frodo the naive and feckless hobbit, together with his rustic servant Samwise, through their faith and perseverance, are transfigured into noble, heroic characters, with assistance from divine providence. Harry Potter is in the midst of a similar transfiguration, from child to man. As Paul notes, the child plays with childish things, but to become adult, he must put them aside. Harry has, over the course of the books, gradually (some might say prematurely) put aside the games of childhood to become the image and likeness of a true wizard, one who must confront the great evil of his time.
That Potter errs along the way, occasionally fails, in fact, is merely a reflection of his humanity. Once a monk was asked what he and his fellows did all day long in their monastery. His reply, “We fall and get up, fall and get up, again”, is a taut summation of the nature of Christian life. We are sons and daughters of God by adoption, but we are still finite, flawed, fallible beings prone to sin. The key is that we can be forgiven, and continue our process of theosis. I note in passing that the “good” characters in Lord of the Rings do many foolish, even sinful things, but they atone and keep going. Potter and company likewise do many foolish, even sinful things along the way, because they are human. The key to the moral tone of the books is found in the consequences of their actions, and their response to them.
Invariably, the consequences of sin in the Potter books are very bad indeed. Sometimes Harry lies, or disobeys just authority, but then something quite bad happens. And whether a person is truly good or evil is determined by how the react to their own sinful acts. The good invariably repent and attempt to atone, and are usually forgiven (even if they cannot forgive themselves–witness Harry’s ongoing remorse for the death of his godfather, Sirius Black).
That often things do tend to work out is not evidence of moral anarchy in Rowling’s work, but of a belief in an active, merciful Providence that redeems evil that, by its own respect for free will, it cannot simply wish out of existence. Tolkien expresses a similar (and very Christian) view throughout his works, most notably at the Cracks of Doom, when the inability of Frodo to destroy the Ring is redeemed by the evil Gollum. This view is expressed even at the very dawn of Tolkien’s mythopeia, when Eru, the One God, takes the discordant tones of Melkor (read Satan) and blends them into a more harmonious Music. Thus, Christians have always believed–that the divine plan of salvation cannot be gainsaid, but will prevail over all evil, because God, being omnipotent, will not be denied. That He must work in this way is a reflection of God’s love for mankind, for He, having made us in his image, will not infringe upon the absolute freedom that is an inherent part of his nature. And so, He lets us find our stumbling way forward, occasionally providing us with a hand up, showing us the way, and moving constantly towards the End, because He wants loving and adoring children who wish to please, and not obedient robots compelled to offer up their love because they have no will of their own.
Amazing the things one can find in Christian literature, even literature that never mentions Christ, if one really understands Christianity.
— Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia
Pays to recall that, as Martin Gardner notes in The Night is Large, Baum’s Oz books beginning with The Wizard were non grata at public libraries, without a single serious literary commentator for sixty years. This despite the classic musical, Judy Garland, and all the rest. What is it about works of fantasy and fable that so threatens academic/literary commissars? You’ll no doubt be hearing a drumbeat against C.S. Lewis too, when his Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe (Narnia) bows this November.
I think this is not just because of Lewis’s Christological-apologetic thrust, but because “magic realms” as such, even Middle Earth, offend the sensibilities of critics as closet romanticists. Adhering to Rousseau’s pop-cult in lockstep, they become loath to admit through Baum, Lewis, Tolkien et al that their worldviews consist precisely of well-realized but childish fantasies. An author’s imagination, popularity, long-standing history, are in fact threats to left-leaning “realists,” making plain that their materialistic biases are as “unreal” as anything Oz or Narnia cooks up.
Of course, in squandering time on such analyses, we play the pop-cult game ourselves. But it is worth repeating: Both partisans and opponents of works such as J.K. Rowling’s suffer romanticist delusions to be discounted at all costs. What’s wrong with myth and legend, fantasy and fable? Nothing, in proper context. Just don’t get your geography from Oz, religion from Narnia, career from Hogwarts. Real magic lies in the real world… I could write a book (and am).
— John Blake
FLAT OF THE LAND
Re: Peter Hannaford’s The Road to Hell:
A flat tax is and has always been the only way to fairly tax American citizens. Look at the way it’s working in Russia and other countries using this simple method of taxation.
— Patricia McCuen
ENEMIES IN THE MORNING
Re: Enemy Central’s Grudges and Garages:
GREAT column. It is 4:30 am in Minnesota — I can’t sleep and this column tickled my funny bone!!! SO TRUE.
— Connie Klecker
“Garage” and “Miers” both contain the letters e and r. Enough said?
— David Govett
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