- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Coliseum couches
"Pagan Greece and Rome have made a comeback in America. Narcissism abounds. The Greek gymnasium has returned in all its glory; the body is tastelessly worshipped in magazines and in Calvin Klein ads splashed on the sides of busses. We can turn on the TV and see reality shows such as "Survivor," "Big Brother," "Weakest Link" or even more horribly, "Temptation Island," "Jerry Springer" and "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?"
"As we watch, it is as if we are experiencing the gladiator games of yore. We cheer as human beings are embarrassed on prime-time television. They may not be mauled by lions, but as the blood rushes to their face in front of tens of millions of people, it is bloodshed of a kind, all the same. And as we sit back on our couches and watch, our apartments are suddenly transformed into coliseums and we return to an ancient era when other human beings were used merely as means to our own amusement, when a person's life was considered dispensable.
"And if every human life is not invaluable, then we are in no way obligated to be concerned for the welfare of our fellow passengers. Existence is a mere opportunity to exemplify Epicureanism; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
Rabbi Meir Yakov Soloveichik in "God and Man at Yale" in the spring issue of Toward Tradition

Impersonal pastors
"There is so much depersonalization and functionalization in our culture. These people deserve to have their name known. They deserve to have somebody who is a spiritual guide and a preacher and a pastor to them who has had a cup of coffee in their kitchen.
"There is so much alienation, so much loneliness around us. Classically, that's what a pastor does. We've lost that. Of course, some people think I'm out to lunch because we don't do that in America. We do something big and influential and cost-efficient. Well, a pastoral life is not cost-efficient, I'll tell you. You don't spend three hours in a nursing home and come away feeling like you've been cost-efficient.
"Well, our culture says you go after the winners. You get the glamorous people. You find the people who are going to help you develop a church. So spend your time with the leaders. That is a basic leadership thing in our country. But what did Jesus do? He hung out with the losers.
"We had a financial campaign for our building. One of my elders came to me and said, "Now, Eugene, this is really important. I want you to visit the people who have the capacity to give. I want you to really work with them. We've got to get this campaign going." I went away from that and thought, "You know, I don't think I'm going to do that." So for the next six months, I didn't visit anybody who had any leadership ability or ability to give. I spent my time with the widows, the unemployed, just to break the seduction of that."
Retired Presbyterian pastor the Rev. Eugene Peterson, interviewed in the spring issue of Cutting Edge

American memorial
"The time is upon us to build our own Parthenon," prominent art historian Joan Breton Connelly recently suggested [referring] to the great temple of Athena erected as a monument to the triumphant recovery of Athens from the devastation wrought by Persian invaders in 479 B.C. In the wake of the terrorist atrocities of September 11, Connelly observed, a similarly monumental gesture would seem to be in order.
"But what does it mean to build a 21st-century Parthenon? Do you hire an architect or sculptor who operates on the assumption that modern times demand uniquely modern solutions? Or do you seek out designers who rely on the forms and conventions that have characterized the art and architecture of the West since the Greeks?
"The Civil War is the source of much of America's finest memorial art, and there is no better place to appreciate this than the Gettysburg battlefield. Like New York's Ground Zero, this battlefield is hallowed earth, consecrated by valor, suffering and death. The Gettysburg landscape was created by artists working from spiritual and artistic assumptions far different than those that today's mandarins are comfortable with.
Those ancient assumptions inspired Daniel Chester French's heroic, colossal Lincoln seated in the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. This Lincoln is not like us; he is exalted far above us. His is part of an ideal world that has ennobled the American psyche."
Catesby Leigh in "An American Parthenon?" in the July/August American Enterprise

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