- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2001

Our national sin
"Reflecting on the carnage of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address concluded that 'the great scourge of war had been brought upon both North and South as punishment for the national sin of slavery… .
"Thanks be to God, the conflict over abortion has not, and will not, produce a civil war. Still, we must not forget that we are a people under judgment. We are called to account for the national sin of abortion. Like Thomas Jefferson, we must 'tremble for our country when we consider that God is just.
"We must pray that God, in his mercy, will not abandon us to our sin but will rather restore us to the godly ideals of our founding."
—Robert P. George, writing on "Our National Sin," in the June issue of Touchstone

The celluloid god

"Imagine yourself on a Sunday afternoon. Youve just walked into a very tall building and been ushered into a dark room where all the seats face forward. There is music playing. You feel reverent. And then the previews start. You are about to worship at the new altar of technological culture, the movie theater.
"After 100 years of tinkering, film has arrived as an alternative form of transcendence, replacing in interesting and strange ways the once venerated position held by the institutional church… . On the surface, there are odd similarities: As physical structures, churches and movie theaters both create a sense of sacred space through architectural elements such as high ceilings, long aisles, darkened rooms, dim lighting and sweeping walls. Both offer similar row-style seating… .
"There are an increasing number of churches: in … Union Station in Washington, Virginia Beach, Va., and San Diego that actually rent movie theaters to host services — a nice arrangement for both institutions, since religion is American cultures only legitimate excuse for being awake on Sunday morning… . What we want from church is actually precisely what we get from film: We want a special effect. In our daily lives, we have this vague but unshakeable sense that the eternal world is all around us, and we keep hoping that it will erupt into our daily lives. But in the movie theater, the supernatural is really there for us to behold."
—Read Mercer Schuchardt, writing on "Worshipping at the movies," in the spring issue of Doublethink

Risky business

"According to reports, Jenna and Barbara Bush, the 19-year-old twin daughters of President Bush, were caught trying to order drinks at a Mexican restaurant in Austin… .
"Police say the manager of Chuys restaurant called 911 on Tuesday evening after minors — allegedly the Bush daughters — tried to order drinks… .
"So, is this a big deal? In this country, drinking is illegal for anyone younger than 21, but the reality among American college students is usually very different. Drinking happens — and no one expects the restaurant to call 911.
"In Jennas case, it doesnt seem to matter if college-age drinking might be considered normal or if our nations drinking laws seem a tad unrealistic. Her brushes with alcohol only further her reputation — in the press, at least — as a 'bad girl… .
"Adolescent psychiatrist Lynn Ponton is familiar with all kinds of risky behavior among teens.
"Ponton laughed when she heard that the Austin restaurant manager had called 911. Minor offenses like underage drinking are best viewed as risk-taking, says Ponton, a process that adolescents need to go through in order to grow into adults."
—Fiona Morgan, writing on "Is it Jenna Bushs problem or ours?" on Thursday in Salon at www.salon.com

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