"If we were in that objective frame of mind, we would easily see that a freedom culture requires separation of the spiritual from the secular. We would also see that [Shariah] - with dictates that contradict liberty and equality, while sanctioning cruel punishments and holy war - is not moderate. Consequently, no one who advocates [Shariah] can be a moderate, no matter how well-meaning he may be, no matter how heartfelt may be his conviction that this is Gods will, and no matter how much higher on the food chain he may be than Osama bin Laden.
"Instead, abandoning reason, we have deep-sixed our own frame of reference and substituted mainstream Islams. If that backward compass is to be our guide, then sure, Qaradawi and Rauf are moderates.
"But know this: When you capitulate to the authority and influence of Qaradawi and Rauf, you kill meaningful Islamic reform. There is no moderate Islam in the mainstream of Muslim life, not in the doctrinal sense. ... Real reform can also be found in some Muslim sects. The Ahmadi, for example, hold some unorthodox views and reject violent jihad. Witness what happens: They are brutally persecuted by Muslims in Pakistan, as well as in Indonesia and other purported hubs of moderation."
- Andrew McCarthy, writing on "Inventing Moderate Islam," at National Review on Aug. 24
"What would John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart think of this? Sylvester Stallone has been defending his movie "The Expendables" from the dastardly charge that the movie is ... too American. 'I'm innocent. I didn't do nuttin,' Stallone joked Thursday night on 'The O'Reilly Factor.'
"Stallone was responding to an assertion in the Los Angeles Times that "Expendables" was exploiting patriotism in order to put American-made butts into movie theater seats. All that pro-American schmaltz where right is right and wrong is wrong should be left to country music and Fox News, not Hollywood, suggests Steven Zeitchick in the Times article. He writes, 'When times are confusing, we want movies to reflect that confusion, and even to make sense of it. But we probably don't want to pretend that confusion doesn't exist.'
"The article prompted host Bill O'Reilly to ask Stallone: 'There's no, like, subtle promoting-America message to the people of Pakistan' in the movie? Apparently not. 'It's pretty straightforward,' Stallone said. 'You're bad, you gotta go.' ...
"Stallone, though, doesn't apologize for creating characters that are proud Americans and offers the observation that: 'America apologizes too much.' Just don't infer from that popular right-wing sentiment that Stallone is interested in politics. ... 'No. No,' says Stallone.
- Paul Bond, writing on "Sylvester Stallone: U.S. 'apologizes too much,' " on Aug. 20 at the Hollywood Reporter
Mother Teresa is 100
"While the Empire State Building wont be lit up in the blue and white colors of Mother Teresas Missionaries of Charity, there are many other ways that Mother Teresas 100th birthday - August 26 - is being honored worldwide. ... The Peace Bridge, on the Niagara River in New York, and the Hutchinson Metro Centers two office buildings in the Bronx will be lit blue and white.
"Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. is not only lighting several campus buildings in blue, but is also naming its new nursing program building in honor of Mother Teresa. ... The Hindustan Times reports that Indian publisher Amar Chitra Katha will publish a comic book about Mother Teresa. The 40-page comic book will tell the story of how Mother Teresa came to India and about her life serving the poorest of the poor. ... In the U.S., the Mother Teresa postage stamp is being issued. Similar stamps are being issued in Austria, Kosovo, and Monaco. France is issuing four collector-edition coins, one which shows Mother Teresa with Pope John Paul II. ... And, the Mother Teresa International Film Festival is being held Aug. 26-29 in [Calcutta], India.
"An extensive list of celebrations and initiatives can be found online at the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center. 'Her life and work continue to be an inspiration for young and old, rich and poor from all walks of life, religions and nations,' said Sr. M. Prema M.C., Superior General."
- Tim Drake, writing on "How Mother Teresa's 100th Birthday is Being Celebrated," on Aug. 23 at his National Catholic Register blog