- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Both sides now

“[William] Kristol was denouncing [Sen. Barack] Obama’s sensational claim that people ‘cling to … religion’ out of economic frustration. The Republican protector of religion detected in this the Marxian doctrine of the materialist origins of consciousness, and more specifically the Marxian notion that religion is ideology, an illusion that renders the oppressed helpless before the forces of oppression.

“I must say that I somewhat agree. Despite Obama’s protestations to local cable stations … his ‘bitter’ remark looked to me, too, like a shallow reduction of faith to circumstances, and also like another expression of the sweet feeling of superiority that Obama frequently confuses with leadership.

“And yet Obama’s disastrous sentence was not entirely erroneous. It is silly to suggest that the motives of belief are always high and philosophical, and divorced from human utility and human need.”

Leon Wieseltier, writing on “Opiates,” in the May 7 issue of the New Republic

Blushing brides

“The FLDS situation has brought certain social issues back into the spotlight, the most prominent being early marriage. It is alleged that some (probably not many) FLDS females marry and conceive children when they are as young as 13. …

“[But] the demise of early marriage is a significant cause of the culture of immorality that surrounds us today. Most people are not particularly zealous for virtue, even in the best of times. Yet, they can be enticed by social norms to live generally moral lives — and one of the most important of these norms is a culture of early marriage. By ‘early’ I do not mean 13, necessarily, but an age of 15-22 for most people. That is the age when hormones are naturally raging, and they are raging for the natural purpose of finding and keeping a spouse. …

“For the majority, the result of frustrating nature is the emergence of an open culture of fornication and vice, in which legions of marriageable but unmarried people end up accumulating a vast number of sexual partners before getting married. The median age for marriage has now reached 25 for women, and 27 for men. The median age for first intercourse is still about 17.”

Jeff Culbreath, writing on “Bring Back Early Marriage,” April 28 at the blog Stony Creek Digest

Just win, baby

“In public, Chinese politicians blabber about bringing the world’s nations together through sport, promoting respect, harmony, and friendship. Forget about that. For China, success means one thing: knocking the United States off the top of the medal stand. The 2008 Olympics is not merely a sporting event. It is, as sportswriter Tim Noonan put it, ‘the coming out party of the Chinese empire’ …

“Don’t imagine that the humiliations of the past few months have dimmed China’s dreams of Olympic glory. First, there were the boycott calls. Then in February, [Steven] Spielberg resigned as Olympic artistic adviser over China’s complicity in Darfur. This was followed in March by the bloody Tibetan uprising … and the disruption of the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in Athens. …

“Protesters might not realize, however, that these setbacks only sharpen China’s desire to silence critics with a crushing victory at the Games.”

Luke Coppen, writing on “Superpower Play,” in the April 21 issue of the American Conservative

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