- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

Self-help gurus

‘Ever since America began to wean itself off the sociological junk-food of victimization … the landscape has been steadily overspread by an antithetical conceit — loosely bracketed as ‘empowerment’ — whose preachments can be summarized as follows: Don’t let anyone take away your dreams. Everything you need to succeed is right there inside you. Believe it, achieve it.

‘Today, Fortune 500 conglomerates draft optimistic business models in bullet points drawn from Stephen Covey’s seven (highly effective) habits; families settle disputes using ameliorative diagnostics straight out of ‘Dr. Phil’; millions of everyday Americans owe their feelings of ‘personal power’ to prow-jawed fire-walker Tony Robbins, the arguable father of today’s mainstream brand of empowerment. And, of course, there is that daily dose of spiritual adrenaline from Oprah Winfrey, who is seldom categorized as a guru in her own right, but whose role as the movement’s eminence grise cannot be discounted: The road to self-help’s promised land … goes right through the vast king-making machine that is Harpo Productions.’

— Steve Salerno, writing on ‘Overdosing on Oprah,’ Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Anti-American elite

‘The ‘only comparison’ to the way the United States is behaving on the world stage these days, the British playwright Harold Pinter said recently, is the Third Reich. … According to Norman Mailer, the ‘specter of fascism’ has been hanging over America, a specter that could become reality ‘if we are struck by economic miseries.’

‘Such comparisons have been all too easy to find lately. Indeed, in the years since the attacks of September 11 … expressions of hatred and contempt for the United States in general, and for its leaders and policies in particular, have become a staple not only of imams and rabble-rousers in the Muslim world, but of Western cultural elites, both at home and abroad.’

—Arch Puddington, writing on ?Stars and Gripes,? in the May issue of Commentary

Papal payback

‘If there were any ‘losers’ in the election of Pope Benedict XVI, they certainly will not be found among the faithful, or the Latin American or African Catholic churches. No, the biggest losers are here in the United States, where influential, liberal Catholic priests who have actively and publicly defied the Vatican … find themselves in a bit of a political pickle.

“‘Pope Benedict knows better than anyone else who the troublemakers are in the United States, and he knows who has worked against the Church’s teachings there,’ says an ordained source at the Vatican. ‘You will be seeing changes soon.’

‘Sooner than expected. [On May 6] it was announced that the Rev. Thomas Reese, the editor of the Jesuit weekly America, was leaving his position at the magazine, to be reassigned to new duties.

‘America magazine, the public organ of the Jesuit order in U.S., is one of the most liberal Catholic periodicals, second only to the National Catholic Reporter, an independent publication.

‘Under Reese, it published articles with views that opposed the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexual priests, stem-cell research, whether Catholic politicians can be denied Communion if they support abortion rights, and homosexual unions.’

—From ‘Clerical Losers,’ May 11 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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