- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2001

African agenda

"In the East African country of Tanzania, the road system consists of crumbling asphalt and dirt tracks. Travel in the countryside is only possible in four-wheel-drive vehicles, or on foot.

"The land is fertile and there is no scarcity of food, but the lack of good roads has made it impossible to transport farm products to market. This keeps the villagers out of the cash economy, and makes the cost of owning a car or operating small machinery … prohibitive. With the cost of fuel soaring, many villagers cannot even afford to buy kerosene for lamps.

"Yet each month family-planning officials, funded in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development, appear in even the remotest villages. The lack of good roads is no barrier for these officials, for they drive new and expensive Land Rovers, capable of negotiating the most difficult terrain.

"They are part of the government's health service, but they bring with them not medicines for the village clinic, but contraceptives.

" 'They go door-to-door and tell each woman they have a choice,' says Elizabeth Liagin, an investigative journalist who recently visited Tanzania. 'She can elect to have "the Shot" or "the Pill." No other choices are given.' …

"Yet, under an agreement between Congress and the White House last fall, USAID will receive a budgetary increase of $40 million [this month], unless the new president puts a hold on these funds."

Steven Mosher, writing on "Bush Should Intervene to Stop Population Control," published Feb. 16 by the Population Research Institute

No longer pure logic

"Pure logic does not win as many arguments as it (supposedly) won in modernity. Postmodern people are not moved by reason alone; they also want to know how an event or object is experienced.

"This shift from reason to experience was evident in a conversation between a young Christian apologist and a student from the nearby university.

"Standing outside a coffee shop, the Christian carefully deployed the strategy he had learned from reading books by Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis. He forced the student to articulate his beliefs, then gently began to push him toward the logical conclusion of those beliefs.

"Finally, when the poor student had no more answers or arguments, the Christian dropped the net, demonstrating that Jesus offered the only rational way out of the labyrinth.

"But the entire program of the apologist … was demolished when the student ended the conversation by saying, 'You are probably right, but I just don't feel the same way about it that you do.'

"Young people are not overly impressed with reason and logic … . Their decisions may have less to do with what they know than with what they feel."

Chuck Smith Jr. in his new book, "The End of the World as We Know It"

Well-bred cannibal

"The most charitable assessment of 'Hannibal' I can make is to call it a burlesque about the difficulties of staying retired.

"Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter, having escaped confinement at the end of 'The Silence of the Lambs,' returns in its sequel after about 30 pulpish, excessively expository minutes, and the movie sorely needs him: He's not the only one who is famished for something to chew on… .

"[Hopkins] has made Lecter a more princely monster this time out, and the film is careful to make each of his kills justifiable.

"Not that it needed to; I'm sure audiences would have sympathized with Lecter anyway. We're such suckers for good breeding… .

"Audiences reacted to Lecter in 'The Silence of the Lambs' the way they might to a true-life serial killer; his gobbling was not considered a joking matter.

"The audience for 'Hannibal' is far more primed for a good time; if the film is a hit, it will be because Lecter has been cartoonized; his ghoulish panache, his double entendres about cannibalism, and his pet phrases … all serve to make him a figure of fun. So what if he serves up human brains for dinner?"

Peter Rainer, writing on "Brains Over Beauty," in the Feb. 19 issue of New York

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