- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

Girl culture

“It’s definitely harder for girls to like themselves today, with all the influences from pop culture. There are so many things they feel they have to live up to. They’re so concerned about fitting into size 25-waist jeans. They get their hair lightened earlier, wear makeup earlier. My sister is 10 years old and already wears bronzer. …

“I developed very late in high school. When I was 16, I still had baby fat. …

“I hated my freckles and, like most girls, I wanted blond hair. All my friends would go in the sun and get all tan, and I would just get more freckles. …

“Even though we all want to be liked by everyone, that’s just not going to happen, and girls shouldn’t worry about that. They have to make themselves happy first. They can’t worry about everyone else.”

Lindsay Lohan, interviewed by Lori Berger, in the February issue of Cosmo Girl

Ignorant faith

“The sociologist Peter Berger once remarked that if India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden the least, then the United States is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. Not anymore. With a Jesus lover in the Oval Office and a faith-based party in control of both houses of Congress, the United States is undeniably a nation of believers ruled by the same.

“Things are different in Europe, and not just in Sweden. The Dutch are four times less likely than Americans to believe in miracles, hell and biblical inerrancy. The euro does not trust in God. But here is the paradox: Although Americans are far more religious than Europeans, they know far less about religion.

“In Europe, religious education is the rule from the elementary grades on. So Austrians, Norwegians and the Irish can tell you about the Seven Deadly Sins or the Five Pillars of Islam. But, according to a 1997 poll, only one out of three U.S. citizens is able to name the most basic of Christian texts, the four Gospels, and 12 percent think Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc. That paints a picture of a nation that believes God speaks in Scripture, but that can’t be bothered to read what He has to say.”

Stephen Prothero in “A Nation of Faith and Religious Illiterates” in the Jan. 12 Los Angeles Times

Scottish ‘Chief’

“After President Bush took his oath of office … the jaunty chords of ‘Hail to the Chief’ started up right on cue. …

“The words ‘hail to the chief’ first referred not to a president, but to a Scottish chieftain. They come from a romantic poem by Sir Walter Scott called ‘The Lady of the Lake,’ first published in 1810. The poem was so popular it was quickly adapted into a London musical, which before long migrated across the Atlantic. …

“The song, possibly adapted from an old Scottish air, was written for the musical by English composer James Sanderson. In America, it was quickly fitted with new lyrics … and was first used to honor a U.S. president at an 1815 birthday celebration for the late George Washington.

“The first time it was used for a living president came when the Marine Band performed it for John Quincy Adams at an 1828 groundbreaking ceremony for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. …

“Julia Tyler, wife of President John Tyler … was the first to ask that the song be used to announce the commander in chief’s arrival. But it was another first lady, Sarah Polk, wife of President James K. Polk, … who requested that ‘Hail to the Chief’ be played routinely for presidential entrances.”

Andy Bowers, writing on “Why ‘Hail to the Chief’?” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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