Generous Orthodoxy  

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sex and human nature in The Wall Street Journal

That got your attention, right? Yep, the Murdoch version of the WSJ is (predictably) a lot more colorful, in both senses of that word, than the old grey version. No little drawing in black-and-white dots for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. His face in full color, together with a chronicle of his misadventures, fills up a tabloid-sized amount of space on the front page today. (Will we ever again be able to say we’re going hiking on the Appalachian Trail without irony?)

The former GOP chairman in South Carolina, Katon Dawson, said that Sanford’s purported Trail hike and further obfuscations were “the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen” and continued, “We’ve [the GOP) been struggling with our elected officials. We’ve run on values and we’ve been struggling.”

But more useful from the Christian point of view was this statement by State Senator John Land:

“The position he’s taken the whole time he’s been in office is, ‘I’m smarter than the rest, I’m more religious than the rest, I’m more godly than the rest.’ I just don’t see how he can come back and be a sinner like the rest of us and still function.”

The article went on to state that Mr. Sanford “in the past has emphasized his Christian faith and absolute moral values.” He voted to impeach Bill Clinton and he publicly disapproved of Rep. Bob Livingstone when he acknowledged extramarital affairs, saying “We as a party want to hold ourselves to high standards, period.”

The whole story is a gold mine for the study of human nature. "What fools these mortals be!"

And from a different angle, perhaps we might reflect on the saying of Rochefoucauld:

Hypocrisy is the homage [or tribute] that vice pays to virtue. (Maxim 218)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The American dream, by Governor Patrick

The African-American governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, told the graduates of Wheaton College (Mass.) about the trajectory of his life:

Our youngest daughter, Catherine, graduated from high school a couple of years ago. Sitting at her graduation, I couldn’t help thinking about the difference between her journey and my own, nearly 35 years earlier. I grew up on welfare on the South Side of Chicago in my grandparents’ two-bedroom tenement. I shared a room and a set of bunk beds with my mother and my sister, who is here today — so we would rotate from the top bunk to the bottom bunk to the floor, every third night on the floor.

I went to overcrowded, sometimes violent public schools. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t love to read, but I don’t actually remember ever owning a book until I got my break in 1970, when I came to Massachusetts on a scholarship to boarding school. ... Now, our Catherine, by contrast, has always had her own room, most of that time in a house in a leafy neighborhood outside of Boston. By the time she got to high school, she had already traveled on four continents, she knew how to use and pronounce the “concierge,” and she had shaken hands in the White House with the president of the United States.

David McCullough on the great cloud of witnesses

In a commencement address at the University of Oklahoma, the beloved historian David McCullough said:

There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. Never was, never will be. We are all, as were those in whose footsteps we follow, shaped by the influence and examples of countless others — parents, grandparents, friends, rivals. And by those who wrote the music that moves us to our souls, those whose performance on stage or on the playing field took our breaths away, those who wrote the great charters which are the bedrock of our system of self-government. And so many who, to our benefit, struggled and suffered through times of trouble and grave uncertainty. And by teachers. ... I want to stress as emphatically as I can the immeasurable importance of teachers.