- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2000

Against all odds

"On a Sunday before the Iowa caucuses, Alan Keyes topped off a rally by diving into a mosh pit. While the crowd held him aloft, he laughed and hoisted a campaign sign. A week later, Gary Bauer stumbled off a dais at a pancake-flipping contest. Nothing could illustrate more perfectly the millennial state of social conservatism than those two adventures in bodysurfing: Bauer, the self-styled leader of the Reagan right, tried hard but reeled over backward, while Keyes, willing to improvise, stole the rocking thunder of the Republican moralists by feeding off the energy of his fanatic followers ….

"A sizable group of citizens about 25 percent of all Americans are outraged social conservatives, the kind of folks who consider Keyes a moral hero… . They feel the nation's culture lurching away from them: From gays in the military to the rise of Puffy Combs, they experienced the '90s as one long assault on their senses, which the Republican party failed to reverse with its pathetic parade of hapless Bushes and Doles and a failed Gingrich 'revolution.' They long to give their hearts to someone who will respect them and vote their principles. And, against all odds, their man is the flamboyant 49-year-old Alan Keyes, a black, Catholic radio talk show host with a Harvard Ph.D.

"Keyes will not be elected president of the United States… . But to understand America's angriest voters, who may well decide the presidency, you have to understand the forces that have created the Keyes phenomenon and the factors that ultimately limit his political appeal."

Peter Keating, writing on "Keyes to the Kingdom," in the April issue of George

Seminary ignorance

"When Richard C. Beaton steps into his classroom each week to teach the New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, he is careful not to make assumptions. He can't assume that his students have been active Christians for more than a few months. He can't assume they know church history. Most of all, he can't assume they know anything about the Bible.

" 'Biblical illiteracy,' he says with a rueful laugh, 'is rampant.'

"Blame it on the decline of liberal-arts education, the marginalization of religious instruction or the changing role of the seminary. Whatever the reason, seminary students today are not the bookish, church-raised philosophers of yesteryear… .

"Professors say they are increasingly met with blank stares as they toss off once familiar theological terms or names of 19th-century philosophers … 'When I went to seminary, teachers could use words like "eschatology" and "hermaneutics" and students knew what they meant,' says the Rev. Robert W. Ireson, general secretary of the United Methodist Board of High Education and Ministry. 'Now you can't assume any of that.' "

Beth McMurtrie, writing on "Teaching Theology Students Who Don't Know Aristotle From Aquinas," in the April 7 Chronicle of Higher Education

Celebrity culture

"Monica Lewinsky's post-scandal career couldn't be brighter. The president's former plaything has an adoring public, and they have turned out en masse on a mid-March day to catch a glimpse of her as she hawks her new line of handbags at Henri Bendel, a high-end clothing store on Fifth Avenue… .

"Among the enthusiasts are a few regular Bendel shoppers perfectly coiffed and coordinated who have wandered up to the fourth floor to check out the commotion. One woman, Carolyn, has her son in tow… . 'I applaud Monica,' says Carolyn. Even though she is famous for servicing a married chief executive? 'That's our culture. That's our country. You don't have to do something good for mankind to be a celebrity.' "

Pia Nordlinger, writing on "Forever Monica," in the April 17 issue of National Review

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