A handful of interesting, informative, and insightful articles.
News, editorials, columns, essays, et al.
The Collapse of Big Media: Starting Over by Terry Eastland @ The Wilson Quarterly (ht):
It’s premature to write an obituary, but there’s no question that America’s news media — the newspapers, newsmagazines, and television networks that people once turned to for all their news — are experiencing what psychologists might call a major life passage. They’ve seen their audiences shrink, they’ve had to worry about vigorous new competitors, and they’ve suffered more than a few self-inflicted wounds — scandals of their own making. They know that more and more people have lost confidence in what they do. To many Americans, today’s newspaper is irrelevant, and network news is as compelling as whatever is being offered over on the Home Shopping Network. Maybe less.
The First Amendment protects against government abridgment of the freedom of the press. But it doesn’t guarantee that today’s news media — some would already say yesterday’s — will be tomorrow’s. Though most existing news organizations will probably survive, few if any are likely to enjoy the prestige and clout they once did. So it’s time to write, if not an obituary, then an account of their rise and decline and delicate prospects amid the “new media” of cable television, talk radio, and the blogosphere....
The "Reform of the Reform" Has Already Begun by Sandro Magister @ Chiesa (ht):
On Sunday, April 24, Benedict XVI inaugurated his “Petrine ministry as bishop of Rome” in the sunlight of a Saint Peter’s Square overflowing with crowds.
But his first intention was different. He had wanted to celebrate his first solemn mass as pope, not in the square, but inside the basilica of Saint Peter. “Because there the architecture better directs the attention toward Christ, instead of the pope,” he told the masters of ceremonies on Wednesday, April 20, his first full day as the elected pope. Only the immense number of faithful who were coming induced him to change his mind and celebrate the mass outdoors.
That same day, speaking to the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, he immediately made it clear that in the first place of his agenda for the papacy, above anything else, would be the eucharist. He defined this as “the permanent center and source of the Petrine ministry that has been entrusted to me.”
For him, the form and the substance of liturgical celebrations are intimately connected. And their disarray is expressed in a passage of the startling meditations that he wrote, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, for the Stations of the Cross last Good Friday: “How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that He is there!” Here “He” refers to Jesus Christ crucified and risen, the great missing person of so many new liturgies, which have become “meaningless dances around the golden calf that is ourselves.” ....
Strict Construction by Ross Douthat @ The New Republic Online (ht):
The election of Benedict XVI, at least in the Western press, is being interpreted primarily as a blow to liberal Catholicism the Catholicism that has endured a kind of exile since the late 1960s, when it became clear that the post-Vatican II renovation in Church teaching was not to be as sweeping as many hoped. For some, this exile has meant formally abandoning the Church; for most, though, it has meant remaining within it, waiting first for Paul VI to die, and then John Paul II, and now Benedict XVI, and all the while insisting often from major op-ed pages and tenured positions at Catholic universities that all of the Church's difficulties, from declining vocations to dwindling mass attendance to the sex-abuse scandals, would be solved if only Catholicism were to become more in step with the modern world.
It's an appealing notion, particularly to people whose lives and beliefs already conform more closely to modern mores than to traditional Catholic teaching. But it has almost no empirical support. All the evidence suggests the opposite that a more liberal Catholic Church would be far weaker, smaller, and less influential even than the wounded and divided Body of Christ that Benedict XVI will govern....
Retaking the university: a battle plan by Roger Kimball @ The New Criterion (ht):
The old Marxist strategy of “increasing the contradictions” — a strategy according to which the worse things get, the better they really are — is a license for thuggery. It excuses all manner of bad behavior for the sake of a revolution that will (so it is said) finally transform society when all the old allegiances have finally collapsed. If one or two tottering institutions require a little push to finish them off, so be it. Shove hard: You cannot, as comrade Stalin remarked, make an omelette without breaking eggs.
As with anything to which the word “Marxist” applies, there are at least eighty-seven things wrong with this strategy. Morally, it is completely irresponsible. Intellectually, it depends upon a fabricated “contradiction” to confer the illusion of inevitability. In real life, the only thing inevitable is the certainty of surprise.
Nevertheless, as one looks around at academic life these days, it is easy to conclude that corruption yields not only decay but also opportunities. Think of the public convulsion that surrounded the episode of Ward Churchill’s invitation to speak at Hamilton College earlier this year. The spectacle of a highly paid academic with a fabricated background comparing the victims of 9/11 to a Nazi bureaucrat was too much. Churchill’s fellow academics endeavored — they are still endeavoring — to rally round. But the public wasn’t buying it....
John Paul II and His Successor by Fr. Thomas Hopko @ St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary - Faculty Articles (ht):
As the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church cloister themselves to choose a successor to John Paul II, we may ask one more time what it was about the late pope that elicited the love and respect of millions of people, including many not sharing his convictions. And what it was about him that also produced the confusion, as well as the contempt, of many, including some identifying themselves as Christians, and Catholics.
I'm convinced that the answer to this question is found in a little book by C.S. Lewis, published in 1944, "The Abolition of Man." It is also found in Karl Stern's spiritual autobiography "The Pillar of Fire," first printed in 1951, especially in the addendum called a "Letter To My Brother." And it is found in the early writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Lewis, Stern and Solzhenitsyn were all committed Christians. But these writings are not about Christianity as such. They are about a vision and experience of human life in our modern, and now postmodern, European and North American worlds that are being enforced, and emulated, all over the earth....
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Thu. 05/05/05 06:39:18 AM
Categorized as Readworthies.