I received the following from a friend and then tracked down the writer, Larry Burton.
At a Touchdown Club meeting many years before his death, Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant told the following story:
had just been named the new head coach at Alabama and was off in my old
car down in South Alabama recruiting a prospect who was supposed to
have been a pretty good player and I was havin' trouble finding the
place. Getting hungry I spied an old cinder block building with a small
sign out front that simply said "Restaurant."
"I pull up, go in and every head in the place turns to stare at me.
Seems I'm the only white fella in the place. But the food smelled good
so I skip a table and go up to a cement bar and sit. A big ole man in a
tee shirt and cap comes over and says, "What do you need?" I told him I
needed lunch and what did they have today? He says, "You probably won't
like it here, today we're having chitlins, collared greens and black
eyed peas with cornbread. I'll bet you don't even know what chitlins
are, do you?" I looked him square in the eye and said, "I'm from
Arkansas, I've probably eaten a mile of them. Sounds like I'm in the
right place." They all smiled as he left to serve me up a big plate.
When he comes back he says, "You ain't from around here then?"
The subtitle of Murray's Wall Street Journal article reads:
"The ideal of an 'American way of life;' is fading as the working class falls further away from institutions like marriage and religion and the upper class becomes more isolated."
Murray compares statistics of an upper-middle-class Boston suburb with a working class neighborhood in Philadelphia in areas of marriage, single parenthood, industriousness, crime, and religiosity. On the last, Murray writes:
It is worrisome for the culture that the U.S. as a whole has become markedly more secular since 1960, and especially worrisome that Fishtown [Philadelphia working-class neighborhood] has become much more secular than Belmont [the upper-middle-class Boston suburb]. It runs against the prevailing narrative of secular elites versus a working class still clinging to religion, but the evidence from the General Social Survey, the most widely used database on American attitudes and values, does not leave much room for argument.
For example, suppose we define "de facto secular" as someone who either professes no religion at all or who attends a worship service no more than once a year. For the early GSS surveys conducted from 1972 to 1976, 29% of Belmont and 38% of Fishtown fell into that category. Over the next three decades, secularization did indeed grow in Belmont, from 29% in the 1970s to 40% in the GSS surveys taken from 2006 to 2010. But it grew even more in Fishtown, from 38% to 59%. [my bolding]
Murray makes many other comparisons between the two groups and is obviously concerned. The unity of culture we knew in the 1960s does not prevail today. He writes:
As I've argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of.
Equal access means equal access. Right? Not for Christians in New York City.
Last week the city's Department of Education reversed course on its policy of allowing religious congregations the use of public schools for Sunday worship services, sending pastors packing with just six weeks to find a new home.
For the last ten years, New York's Department of Education has given at least 60 small, mostly Christian, upstart or itinerant congregations the option to hold their weekend services in any one of the city's empty school buildings provided, of course, they pay to use the facilities - a nice benefit to the cash strapped public education system.
When possible, public schools should and have customarily been made available to community organizations of every stripe. It's called equal access. But by essentially disallowing some groups over others because, in this instance, they are religious, NY's Department of Education has engaged in nothing other than viewpoint discrimination.
This Thursday, pastors from across New York City will be gathering at Mayor Bloomberg's State of the City address at Morris High School to protest this troubling discrimination.
From Tocqueville's America to today's, community groups, fraternal societies, churches and other voluntary associations have been the hallmark and backbone of our society, fostering networks of support and civic engagement. We should be encouraging not evicting these congregations. The fact that they're doing it on religious grounds only makes it all the more insulting to right sensibility.
Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed Michael Novak (author of two recent books), who came forth with the thought for the day:
NOVAK: A wise teacher once told our class: Keep a worn journal by the bed, and write in it every night — five minutes, no more — jotting down the most memorable image (or even insight) of the day. Four minutes if you must. But do it. You will be surprised how this will teach you to notice many vivid images each day, and many insights. Only choose one at night, though, “to snatch from the flames.”
I recently read a sentence that struck me as unusual:
Picture Egypt as a vacant lot in which a dozen or so combustible elements--a leaking oil can here; some dry wood over there; patches of desiccated grass--sit in varying degrees of proximity to one another, while the boys who play in the lot light cigarettes. Chances are, something will catch fire."
What's unusual about that first sentence? Answer: It uses the word "proximity" without its normal partner "close" linked to it. Saying "close proximity" has always struck me as redundant, and somewhat ignorant. My online dictionary defines "proximity" as "nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation."
I'm far from expert in English usage, and don't mean to be pedantic, it's just that I was genuinely surprised to see the word used in a proper way.
I enjoyed Jason Gay's reflections on eating too much at a big meal -- not knowing when to stop. I could identify. This was to set up his argument that sports schedules should be lean and mean to keep fans hungry for more. Since satiety is the enemy, Jason advocates the best-of-five series over the best-of seven series. But he begins (quite entertainingly) talking about eating::
We're a nation of presumed gluttons—allegedly desperate for more, more, more. But how much do we really need?
Not long ago, I ordered a salad for dinner (I know: how thrilling! Want to buy the movie rights?)
When it arrived, I thought someone had made a mistake: The kitchen had prepared a Caesar fit for the Purdue University football banquet.
This was not a dish, or a bowl, but a trough that would not fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane. The waiter practically had to carry it with a harness, and when he plopped it on the table, as if it were fresh roadkill, he gave a look of unspoken disgust, as if to say, "Knock yourself out, elastic waistband!"
Of course, I soon found myself doing the thing that many of us do when faced with an oversized plate, which is to embrace the challenge, and eat beyond reasonable limits. I made a series of mental contracts—stop here, okay here, okay here—that were quickly broken, until all that was left was one lonely crouton, soggy in dressing. Then I ate that, too. I was filled with parmesan and self-loathing.
"The meal is not over when I'm full," the comedian Louis CK once said.
"The meal is over when I hate myself."
The thing is, we don't want so much. We need balance and portion control. We don't have to have the biggest car, or house, or TV, or Caesar salad.
And we don't need so much from sports, either. . . . [more . . .]
In a review of John McWhorter's book, What Language Is, Erin McKean writes:
"Do you think Black English is a "dialect" full of "mistakes"? You're likely to change your mind about its "languageness" after reading Mr. McWhorter's careful explanation of the similarities between Black English and Modern Hebrew -- both being slightly simplified versions of their 'parent' languages, Standard English and Biblical Hebrew.
Jonah Goldberg posted this YouTube video and wrote:
If this isn’t the best thing you see all weekend, you’re living a charmed life. A man with autism stumbles on the National Anthem and the crowd comes to the rescue. Just a wonderful display of humanity.
Pastors, if there are two things I would add they would be as follows.
First, please avoid making a distinction between mothers and non-mothers in a physical way (e.g. having all the moms stand up or giving flowers to all the moms). I well remember sitting in a Father’s Day service where all the dads were asked to stand. I felt like there was a huge neon sign over me that kept flashing “not able to have kids, not able to have kids.” My wife felt it keenly as well: she began to weep. The most pastorally sensitive leaders I know avoid this like the plague. Instead, they acknowledge the day and proceed to pray earnestly for the full range of emotions that are being experienced on that day (since it is often quite painful, not just for those unable to have kids, but for those estranged from their moms, those moms who are estranged from their kids, those who have recently lost a mother, etc.).
This leads to the second thing. As Moore indicates, it is important to recognize that there are many conflicting emotions going on during a Mother’s Day service. It is crucially important to pastor all the people through that time. Here is the prayer I would offer on Mother’s Day:
"Ending dues deductions breaks the political cycle in which government collects dues, gives them to the unions, who then use the dues to back their favorite candidates and also lobby for bigger government and more pay and benefits," Mr. Siegel told me.
"Insects are nutritious and easy to raise without harming the environment. They also have a nice nutty taste."
- Kay S. Hymowitz - Where Have the Good Men Gone? Hymowitz argues that too many men in their 20s are living in a new kind of extended adosescence. (WSJ)
Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.
The blizzard is definitely a force for conservatism, and not only because it has had the global-warming crowd scrambling for explanations. The blizzard reveals something basic: Liberals in government want to tell us what to eat, counsel us about how and when to die, and in general attempt to engineer our lives. But when reality knocks, they can’t do the basic stuff such as clearing the streets so that newborns don’t die in bloody apartment-building lobbies. Mayor Bloomberg may be receiving an unfair amount of criticism for his lackluster performance in coping with Mother Nature, given the almost unprecedented nature of the storm, but the unplowed city streets provide a metaphor for the nanny state: It can order us to do anything, but it can’t take care of the basic obligations of government.
It's short and easy. Click here. Jonah Goldberg wrote:
This is a pretty depressing news quiz by Pew. What’s depressing is how easy it is. For the record, I got 12 out of 12, though I think a person who describes themselves as well-informed on current events could be forgiven for missing maybe 2 or 3, maybe even 4. But 4% of those who took the quiz got 0 right. And it looks like 30% of respondents got 3 or fewer right.
Me: I got 10 of 12. Try it. It takes less than 5 minutes.
Click here for the 6 minute video. It's the invention of Steve Saint, the son of one of the four missionaries killed in Ecuador many years ago (most mentioned was Jim Elliot). Steve shows footage and explains the car.
I was fascinated and did a little more internet exploring. Click here and then choose "The Maverick Flying Car" video. It's 8 minutes long and goes into more detail. The flying car is utterly, utterly fascinating. This is aviation history taking place right now!
Popular Mechanics came out with a major article in its October 27, 2010 edition. The vehicle is now street and air legal! It will do zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds; it easily does over 80 mph on the ground and about 40 mph in the air.
If you haven't yet discovered Tim's "Random Observations" blog, it wouldn't surprise me if you wanted to add it to your bookmarks. When I pop by every so often, I am invariably treated to several original thought pieces of an extremely high caliber. Tonight, for example, I greatly appreciated his post, "Detecting Religion in Atheists." I also valued his post, "The Origin of the Flat Earth," which taught me that "no one before the 1830s believed medieval people thought the earth was flat." That was a charge invented, or should I say, "concocted" by atheists. I appreciate his level-headed, dispassionate observation displayed in his post, "What's at Stake in the Intelligent Design Debate?" There's a lot more to be found at his blog. Happy reading!
George Will's article can be found here. He quotes Daniel Akst who denounced denim as a
manifestation of “the modern trend toward undifferentiated dressing, in
which we all strive to look equally shabby.” Will contends, "Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances." He says a lot more too.
For which he received multiple denunciations. Take Ed Morrissey's for example:
People don’t wear denim as an affectation to seem indifferent to sartorial splendor. They wear jeans
because they’re (a) mostly inexpensive in comparison to other
sportswear choices, (b) remarkably durable, and (c) resistant to the
whims of fashion. They match almost every kind of shirt or blouse, and
they work in almost every kind of weather.
Er. Don’t know about you, but in my case, denim is the “costume” of
normal people who like wearing something comfortable and inexpensive in
the home office, to the supermarket, on the road, and at the kids’
soccer matches and horse-riding lessons. (And yes, even when they are
doing Fox News segments!) Busy, budget-conscious wives are grateful to
busy, budget-conscious husbands who wear jeans that don’t have to be
ironed. This is not an “indifference to appearances.” This is attention
to frugality, practicality, and time constraints.
We all may wear jeans now, but judging from my recent trip to
Disneyworld, we all wear different shirts with an astonishing array of
logos, corporate identities, slogans, pictures and other examples of
personal expression. No one strives to look equally shabby. Shabbiness
may be the end result, but people are keenly interested in carving out
a particular niche identity on the front of their shirts.
Me: Of the responses noted above, no one discussed the appropriateness of wearing jeans to funerals, weddings, or church. I've seen jeans worn at all such occasions (not to mention shorts). It's become extremely common at church. And I confess, I wince a little.
Should there be a dress code for certain occasions? I think so, especially funerals and weddings. But there's also an aesthetic consideration. Should those who look at our appearance have to endure it, rather than appreciate and enjoy it? Is there a reason why we enjoy walking in a flower garden?
Is it the last gasp of a dying art? (HT: Kathryn Jean Lopez) Click here. Check out the comments, also. One person suggests writing a note, scanning it, and attaching it to an e-mail. I've never tried that.
So often I am late in remembering a friend's birthday that I do the next best thing: scurry to send an e-card. But I feel slightly guilty. Still, (I comfort myself), an e-card at least lets the friend know they have been remembered. Far better than nothing.
But I agree with what others have written. A handwritten note is something more and more to be appreciated and (in some cases) treasured.
[SAN DIEGO – A grieving father and husband who lost his wife, two young
daughters and mother-in-law when a Marine fighter jet crashed into
their home on Monday thanked everyone who has supported him and said he
does not blame the pilot of the disabled plane.
“Nobody expected such a horrible thing to happen, especially right
here, you know, our house,” Don Yoon said at a Tuesday news conference
in front of his decimated home in University City. “I believe my wife
and two babies and mother-in-law are in heaven with God, and I know God
is taking care of them.” [More . . .]
It's the video that really moved me.Michelle Malkin has supplied us with an address to which one can send a card:
Dong Yun Yoon
c/o Rev. Kevin Lee
Korean United Methodist Church
3520 Mount Acadia Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
I haven't had any first-hand experience living in a small town, but Paul Gregory Alms does a terrific job describing what it's like. He pastors a Lutheran Church in Catawba, North Carolina, population about 700. A key word he uses to describe living in a small town is "connection." I think a lot of us would be very different people if we lived in a small town, just as I think we'd be different people if we had grown up in a very large family. I enjoyed reading Alms' essay.
I found this article in the Boston Globe a reminder that the unexpected, the unexplained, the weird and the uncanny, can arrive "out of nowhere." We don't know everything. What seems consistent and "uniform" may not be so. We cannot foresee all that can happen. We live in a mysterious world and an even more mysterious universe. It should make us humble. (HT: Drudge)
Hugh Hewitt [pictured at the left], for those who do not know him, is an extraordinary man, a lawyer, author, columnist and talk-show host. Victor Davis Hanson, one of the wisest of men, a historian and classicist, sat down with Hewitt for an extraordinary two hour interview, the transcript of which can be found here. Their discussion covers the state of the world, the elections, the culture, and a whole lot more. Take the time to read it. You will be well rewarded. If you prefer, you can listen to the podcast of hour one, and the podcast of hour two. If I can find the time, I may later come back and provide some excerpts. Again, the transcript of the interview can be found here.
I've always been amused by William F. Buckley's opinion on who would govern best, Harvard profs or ordinary citizens. Roger Kimball muses on that old WFB line and a reader adds a twist. Kimball writes (HT: Mark Steyn):
the early 1960s, Bill Buckley famously observed that he would rather be
governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone book than
the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.
After my post last weekend re Governor Palin, a number of readers modified the thought along the following:
I would rather be governed by the first 500* names in the Wasilla, AK phone book than by the editors of The Harvard Law Review.
reduced from 2,000 because, what with all those five-kid households,
there probably aren't 2,000 names in the Wasilla book.)
This is a fascinating (and disturbing) article from the Wall Street Journal.
Around the world, the night sky is vanishing in a fog of artificial
light, which a coalition of naturalists, astronomers and medical
researchers consider one of the fastest growing forms of pollution,
with consequences for wildlife, people's health -- and the human spirit. (more . . .)
I found the following words of William Barclay challenging:
"Often we find ourselves with a small amount of time; and often we know that there is something which ought to be done; and often we say, 'It's not worth beginning with so little time available.'
It is a dangerous phrase, because it means that the half hour is wasted--and wasted half hours soon mount up to a considerable amount of time. If we work a five-day week and waste half an hour each day that is two and a half hours. Over a year that is one hundred and thirty hours; and one hundred and thirty hours is not much short of a week--a whole week's time and work wasted and gone. - From Daily Celebration, 1971, p.172
In a way, the world is a great liar. It shows you it
worships and admires money, but at the end of the day it doesn't. It
says it adores fame and celebrity, but it doesn't, not really. The
world admires, and wants to hold on to, and not lose, goodness. It
admires virtue. At the end it gives its greatest tributes to
generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that,
brought into the world, make it better. That's what it really admires.
That's what we talk about in eulogies, because that's what's important.
We don't say, "The thing about Joe was he was rich." We say, if we can,
"The thing about Joe was he took care of people."
Have you ever found yourself living unexpectedly without power for several days? Bishop G. Porter Taylor tells of coming home one Sunday evening to a surprise.
When I opened the door of our house, I didn't hear the customary noises: no CD's, no TV's, no clicking of computer keys. Instead, there was a mechanical silence broken only by murmurs of voices. I went into the living room and all became clear; the power was off. My family was gathered around the fireplace with oil lamps, candles, and flashlights reading the newspaper and just taking about the routine matters of daily life.
Our power stayed off the rest of Sunday and all of Monday and most of Tuesday. . . I noticed how slow life became and also how mutual life became. I was no longer "productive" without power to run my computer for very long or adequate light to work at my desk. Making coffee with a Coleman stove just