Generous Orthodoxy  

Friday, May 25, 2012

An end to war?

As I write, I am listening to an impressive interview on WNYC (NPR) with Paul Chappell, the author of a new book, Peaceful Revolution. Captain Chappell is a West Point graduate, an Iraq War veteran, a student of military history, and an extraordinarily articulate exponent of the idea that war can be abolished before the end of this century. This is a notion that, frankly, never occurred to me (I would have said "the warlike you have always with you"). This interview is having an effect on me.

Chappell is the son of a Korean mother and a father who was half-white and half-black. When he was growing up in Alabama, his parents drilled into him that if he wanted to get ahead, he should go into the Army, since there were so few opportunities for "a black man who looks Asian." Hence his decision to go to West Point. Part of his intellectual and moral development has been his experience of the tremendous changes, in a relatively short time, in attitudes to slavery and race.

Brian Lehrer, who is a brilliant talk-show host interviewer, is a major figure in NYC and its environs. He is conducting a series, "End of War." You can find him, and the Chappell interview, at

Paul K. Chappell is not to be confused with Baptist minister Paul Chappell who is probably foaming at the mouth at this point from the competition. Captain Chappell who wrote Peaceful Revolution is at this site:

No matter what your attitude toward all things military, you will find this young man very compelling.

P.S. It is amusing to see, at the bottom of Chappell's website page describing his book, these words in small type: "The views presented here do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Defense." Indeed.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ultra-Orthodox Jews to fill the Mets' Citifield

(I almost wrote "Shea Stadium.") This article in The New York Times today, headlined "Ultra-Orthodox Jews to Hold Big Meeting on Internet Risks," is fascinating and offers a glimpse of an aspect of American life that most of us know very little about. They certainly have a point about the risks of the Internet. (The countervailing theme in the news this month has been the issue of child sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community. This horrible crime is not limited to Roman Catholic priests are not the only ones engaging in these horrible crimes.)

In any case, 40,000 men in black hats and 20,000 more in the Arthur Ashe stadium will certainly be an unusual sight in those sporting venues!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

T. S. Eliot and a very young Obama

There is a remarkable op-ed column in the New York Times today, by Adam Kirsch, a senior editor of The New Republic.  It dissects a letter about T. S. Eliot written by Columbia undergraduate Obama. The op-ed piece isn't just good on the subject of Obama himself. I found it tremendously encouraging because it helps explain why so many of us still love TSE. Even more important, it shows how one can be politically liberal ("the practical truth of liberalism") while also being socially and culturally conservative ("the poetic truth of conservatism"). Overlooking Kirsch's unaccountable use of the non-word "enthuse," I love this piece.