- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2004

A good Christian’

“In 1956, when he recorded ‘I Walk the Line’ for Sun Records, Johnny Cash became an overnight sensation. But it was his many years of singing as if he knew from personal experience all of humankind’s strengths and failings — as if he had both committed murder and been accepted into God’s light — that made him a favorite of liberals and conservatives, MTV and the Grand Ole Opry, Gary Gilmore and Billy Graham. …

“In 1975, when an interviewer for Penthouse asked him if he was a political radical, he replied, ‘I’m just tryin’ to be a good Christian’ — a good Christian, but not a professional one, despite his many songs about Jesus and his tours as a member of his friend Billy Graham’s crusades. He was a Christian who didn’t cast stones, a patriot who didn’t play the flag card.”

Francis Davis, writing on “God’s Lonely Man,” in the March issue of the Atlantic

McDiet

“Whoever thought up the weird blend of menu, sermon, and keep-fit manual that McDonald’s has now dubbed ‘Real Life Choices,’ he has at least proved one thing. Creepy Ronald is not the only clown working under those famous golden arches. Thanks to this initiative, diners waddling into any branch of the burger chain located in the New York tri-state area can participate in a program designed ‘to help [them] stay on track with [their] diet regimen and incorporate McDonald’s food without feeling guilty.’ …

“[W]hen that program is given a name so drenched in corporate saccharin as ‘Real Life Choices’ only two things are certain: It will be a complete fantasy, and there will be no additional ‘choice.’ …

“This is how it works. Fearful of fat? Cautious about calories? … Well, the program will allow you to request standard menu items modified to take account of your specific dietary concerns. It really isn’t that difficult. Feel free to tuck into six (white meat) Chicken McNuggets and a side salad, but only use half a package of Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing. I feel slimmer already.”

Andrew Stuttaford, writing on “Ronald’s Bad Choice,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Roots of rage

“The worship of false gods is the worst religious sin in Islam as well as in ancient Judaism. The West, as conceived by Islamists, worships the false gods of money, sex and other animal lusts. In this barbarous world, the thoughts and laws and desires of Man have replaced the kingdom of God.

“The word for this state of affairs is jahiliyya, which can mean idolatry, religious ignorance or barbarism. Applied to the pre-Islamic Arabs, it means ignorance: People worshipped other gods because they did not know better. But the new jahiliyya … is everywhere, from Las Vegas and Wall Street to the palaces of Riyadh. To an Islamist, anything that is not pure, that does not belong to the kingdom of God, is by definition barbarous and must be destroyed. …

“[T]he most immediate targets of Islamists are the liberals, reformists, and secular rulers in their own societies. They are the savage stains that have to be cleansed with blood. But the source of the barbarism that has seduced Saudi princes and Algerian intellectuals … is the West. And that is why holy war has been declared against the West.”

Ian Buruma, writing on “The Origins of Occidentalism,” Friday in the Chronicle of Higher Education

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