- The Washington Times - Monday, October 25, 2004

Sadness and outrage

“Christopher Reeve’s recent death hit me harder than most. I have a spinal-cord injury, having been rendered paraplegic by a car accident seven years ago. …

“Near the end of his too-short life, Mr. Reeve apparently began to realize that embryonic stem cells were not the magic bullet he had assumed them to be. … Far from claiming that this avenue offered ‘biological miracles,’ or was the best or only hope for patients like him, he now felt they were ‘not able to do much’ for him.

“When I heard about Mr. Reeve’s death, I came close to crying. I was sad for him and his family. … But when I hear ignorant political candidates declare that their election will get ‘people like Christopher Reeve’ out of their wheelchairs and walking again, my sadness turns to outrage.

James Kelly, writing on “The Wrong Path,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Surprising believers

“Looking under the conventional labels used to depict religious believers, ethnographers and cultural historians are uncovering some unexpected findings. We know, for example, that religious conservatives are likely to vote Republican, but what, exactly, does it mean to be a religious conservative? If the scholarship of historians like R. Marie Griffith or sociologists like Gerardo Marti is any indication, it does not necessarily mean turning one’s back on the modern world. Griffith’s ‘Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity,’ published this month, places the popularity of diet and fitness books among American believers, many of them conservative, in the context of earlier attempts to achieve spiritual renewal through mind control or self-discipline. Marti’s ‘A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church,’ to be published next month, offers a case study of a Los Angeles-based church that is at one and the same time Southern Baptist in affiliation and conservative theologically and attractive to a young, primarily single Hollywood clientele working at cutting-edge cultural jobs in the entertainment industry. …

“While religion has certainly done its share to shape American culture, it is also the case that American culture shapes religion, and in very powerful ways.”

Alan Wolfe, writing on “Scholars Infuse Religion With Cultural Light,” in the Friday issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Dueling politics

“Vice President [Aaron] Burr was [Alexander] Hamilton’s bitterest foe; in the disputed presidential election of 1800, Hamilton had intervened successfully on behalf of [Thomas] Jefferson, whom he regarded as the lesser of evils.

“In 1804, when [Aaron] Burr was seeking the New York governorship, a letter appeared in the Albany Register describing Hamilton’s ‘despicable opinion’ of Burr. This prompted Burr to demand a duel. Hamilton didn’t want to duel, so he ‘tried to placate Burr with an elaborate discussion about the “infinite shades” of meaning of the word “despicable,” ‘ writes historian Joanne Freedman in the New-York Journal of American History. Burr found Hamilton’s attempt at nuance ‘evasive, manipulative, and offensive,’ and the two men met, with pistols on July 11.

“Hamilton … deliberately [missed] Burr on his first shot. Burr’s shot mortally wounded Hamilton. …

“Hamilton was only 47 when he died, and most Americans know him today only as the guy on the $10 bill.”

James Taranto, writing on “The Guy on the $10 Bill,” Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal

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