- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Of God and freedom

“After observing Western culture during his exile from Russia … Russian novelist and 1970 Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn came to a surprising conclusion about the value of freedom and happiness. …

“According to Solzhenitsyn, the Western concept of happiness is the one born in the Renaissance and expressed politically since the Age of Enlightenment. It is the happiness of rationalistic humanism, which never looks beyond man and his material needs. … In other words, the Western concept of man and his happiness is essentially materialistic. …

“And what about freedom? Doesn’t this make our culture better than that of Communism? …

“According to Solzhenitsyn, ‘Mere freedom per se does not in the least solve all of the problems of human life and even adds a number of new ones.’ … As Solzhenitsyn observes, freedom is worth having insofar as its use facilitates our worship of and obedience to God, and not worth having insofar as its use hinders this worship and obedience. …

“Because our freedom and happiness refer primarily to the material world, Westerners are guilty of the same materialistic philosophy which gave birth to Communism.”

Micah Wierenga, writing on “A World Reunited,” Dec. 18 in Boundless at www.boundless.org

Bad blood

“It’s a good bit more demanding to be a blood donor these days than it used to be. Walk into the lobby, and you’re handed “the book,” a bulky three-ring binder you’re asked to read through to see if you qualify. “The book” gives you half a dozen opportunities to disqualify yourself before anyone sees the first drop of your blood. … In the next room, you’re asked to check off more than 50 separate fine-print questions about your own health background and personal practices….

“Under the heading: ‘Who can not be a blood donor,’ was disqualification No. 7: ‘If you are a male and have had sex even once with another male since 1977.’ In other words, no honest practicing male homosexual can be part of the blood-donor system in our culture. …

“Here is a whole category of people in our culture today unable to perform a basic function of human society — to share their blood with their fellow humans…. Would it make a difference to folks who might be otherwise tolerant of homosexual marriage if they knew that even a politically correct organization like Red Cross is allowed regularly to discriminate against homosexuals on this issue?”

Joel Belz, writing on “The Red Cross Standard,” in the Saturday issue of World

Eye candy

“I’m 56. The magazines tell me that at this age, a woman can still be beautiful. But they don’t mean me. They mean Cher, Goldie [Hawn], Faye [Dunaway], Candace [Bergen]. Women whose jowls have disappeared as they’ve aged, whose eyes have become less droopy, lips grown plumper, foreheads smoother with the passing years. They mean Susan Sarandon, who looked older in 1991’s “Thelma and Louise” than she does in her movies today. “Aging beautifully” used to mean wearing one’s years with style, confidence and vitality. Now, it means not appearing to age at all….

“In my 1993 book, ‘Unbearable Weight,’ I described the postmodern body, ‘increasingly fed on fantasies of rearranging, transforming and correcting, limitless improvement and change, defying the historicity, the morality and indeed, the very materiality of the body. In place of that materiality, we now have cultural plastic.’…

“When did ‘perfection’ become applicable to a human body? The word suggests a Platonic form of timeless beauty — appropriate for marble, perhaps, but not for living flesh.”

University of Kentucky professor Susan Bordo in “The Empire of Images in the World of Our Bodies” in the Friday issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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