- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Faithless fuss

“[F]or all the fuss over the Episcopalians choosing a gay bishop, what should have been an even bigger scandal has received scant attention. For decades, the Episcopal Church and other Anglican bodies have been electing bishops who are not even Christians.

“John Shelby Spong recently retired as bishop of New Jersey. For his whole ecclesiastical career, he wrote and preached against every tenet of the Christian faith. Bishop Spong … did not believe in the virgin birth, the doctrine of the incarnation, the deity of Christ, the resurrection, or the existence of God. …

“David Jenkins scorned the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as ‘a conjuring trick with bones.’ This did not prevent him from being consecrated as the bishop of Durham, [the] fourth-highest post in the Church of England. …

“The point is, the Episcopalian embrace of homosexuality happened only after decades in which the authority of Scripture was jettisoned and Christian doctrine became optional.”

Gene Edward Veith, writing on “Wandering Shepherds,” in the Aug. 23 issue of World magazine

Life after deadline

“Despite all that storytelling talent, former New York Times reporter and author Rick Bragg is telling few tales about his stormy resignation from the newspaper.

“Not on the record, anyway.

“‘I guess if I had invested my life into the institution, then I would have been a lot more disappointed than I was,’ Bragg said. …

“The Pulitzer Prize winner resigned in May during scrutiny over his extensive use of an unpaid researcher on a story.

“‘I have got a writing life ahead of me most people would kill for. I left a place that really was a rocket-ship ride for me,’ said Bragg, who has signed a $1.5 million two-book deal and still writes magazine articles.

“The next royalty check or advance check, he said, will include a spending spree on new mud tires for his 1986 Ford Bronco.

“His newspaper career, he said, was winding down anyway, and he had planned to leave the Times within a few months.

“‘I had about worn out,’ Bragg said. …

“Bragg, 43, said he has no plans of being a prolific writer in his old age. He plans to write a few fiction books, then retire quietly in the next decade or so to his native Calhoun County, Ala.

“‘I’m going to build me the best bass lake in Calhoun County, and I’m going to spend my old age walking around the weeds shootin’ snakes.’”

Kelli Samantha Hewett, writing on “Book writing rather than journalism keeps Bragg happy,” Monday in the Nashville Tennessean

Teen TV

“How did Orange County join Ukraine, Yukon, Bronx, and Congo as territory that merits the definite article? ‘Welcome to the O.C. …’ a bully announces on Fox’s new teen drama. ‘This is how it’s done in Orange County.’ …

“A sexy, sullen kid, under bad influences, steals a Camaro and lands in the hands of an avuncular public defender. Counselor, taking pity on the stray, brings him home to a sumptuous wife-sponsored mansion in Newport Beach. There the rich swoon over the gentle hood. He’s befriended by girls in low jeans, the lawyer’s stammery son, and a Paltrow-like neighbor girl whose financial-adviser father is in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ryan, the hood, and Marissa have a lot in common because Ryan’s dad’s committed armed robbery, and, if you think about it, didn’t Marissa’s do the same thing? …

“Now we have another chance to sample from that smorgasbord of teen sentimentality: a sulky rebel; the white-boy crime of joy riding; a loveless home; and some high SAT scores, which indicate potential. Did I mention Ryan’s sexiness, and the fact that he’s a decent street fighter?”

Virginia Heffernan, writing on “‘Rumble Fish’ by the Sea,” Aug. 13 in Slate at www.slate.com

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