Generous Orthodoxy  

Friday, December 19, 2008

The moral implications of greed

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has a column today, "The Madoff Economy" in The New York Times, which raises all sorts of good and probing questions about the ethics of the financial services industry. One of the salient paragraphs reads as follows: much has our nation’s future been damaged by the magnetic pull of quick personal wealth, which for years has drawn many of our best and brightest young people into investment banking, at the expense of science, public service and just about everything else?
Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

One of Mr. Krugman's main points is addressed to all of us. By admiring and encouraging these high-flyers, haven't we all contributed to a culture in which teachers, community organizers (yes), journalists (that threatened species), engineers, and honest laborers are devalued? Haven't we as a society been insufficiently committed to raising a generation of young people who seek to contribute to making a better world, rather than making a pile and living in back-country Greenwich (hedge-fund capital of the world) behind eight-foot stone walls and an electronic gate? (My doctor's nurse told me today that you can actually get a parking place on Greenwich Avenue [the equivalent of Rodeo Drive] these days. That's a first.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Massacre of the Carols

Just in time for Christmas, the latest news from the p. c. front:

From The Times of London:

"Massacre of the carols": Trendy vicars are wrecking traditional Christmas carols

by Ruth Gledhill, Times Religion Correspondent--December 12

Traditional Christmas carols are being wrecked by politically correct vicars who are altering well-known words because they think their congregations will not understand them or will find them offensive. Britain is heading for a “massacre of the carols” this Christmas by clergy bent on playing to the mood of modernity sweeping across the established Church of England. Other English-speaking churches in Europe, the US and elsewhere are also affected, according to the satirical Christian website ShipofFools, which is running a competition to find the worst rewritten carol. “Innocents like king, man, son, virgin and Lord – they’ve all been slaughtered to make carols more modern and 'inclusive',” said site editor Steve Goddard. “Theologically modified carols will ring out everywhere this year.”

In some revised versions of "O Come All Ye Faithful," for example, the phrase “Glory to the Christ child bring” replaces "Glory to the newborn King," and “O come in adoration” is sung in preference to "O come let us adore him." At one church, "Joy to the World" was changed to begin: "Joy to the world, for peace shall come, let this be our refrain!" This contined for three verses, avoiding all reference to Jesus but exhorting the congregation to to exult in the coming of a whole clutch of abstract nouns.

One of the most frequently altered carol is “Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,” which has been changed to "Brightest and best of the stars of the morning." "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" has been altered in some churches to remove any reference to the Virgin. Some songsheets render Wesley’s classic, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," with the line “Born to raise the sons of earth” altered to "Born to raise us from the earth."

Earlier this week, Israeli ambassador Ron Proser launched a protest against a carol service at St James’ Piccadilly, one of London’s best-known churches, where traditional carols were rewritten to give them a strongly pro-Palestinian bias.


The ShipofFools website goes into a little more detail, as follows:

Chorister [a correspondent] is puzzled about changes to "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." The original words, "This day is born a Saviour, of a pure Virgin bright," have been changed to "To you is born a Saviour, in David's town tonight." Is this careful avoidance of Mary being a virgin?" asks Chorister. Mockingbird [another correspondent] has problems with the re-working of Wesley's classic, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." The change of "Born to raise the sons of earth" to "Born to raise us from the earth" was presumably intended to make the line more inclusive, says Mockingbird. "I think it has the opposite effect. 'Born to raise us' could be taken to mean 'born to raise us nice elect Christians only, and tough luck on all those reprobates'. Raise us from the earth sounds like neoplatonism, suggesting that the earth is some icky place we need to get away from, rather than a good work of God."