Thursday, October 2, 2008

No show

“Family Research Council Action is alerting constituents that a senior Barack Obama adviser on religious issues bowed out of a high-profile debate with a counterpart from the McCain campaign yesterday:

“‘People hoping for a lively discussion on faith and values from Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) campaign were surprised yesterday when Team Obama failed to show for a media-heavy debate. The capacity crowd that gathered at the Capitol Hill Club had expected Obama’s senior adviser for religious affairs, [the] Rev. Evna Terri La Velle, to square off with Bob Heckman, a representative from Sen. John McCain’s campaign. Just hours before the lunchtime event began, members of the sponsoring organizations, the National Clergy Council and Evangelical Church Alliance, received word that Obama’s delegation of 11 had backed out.’

“The Obama campaign had no comment, but didn’t contest FRC Action’s version of events. For conservative Christian groups that are eager to prove that Obama’s religious outreach is empty talk, the Obama team just made their job a little easier.”

-Dan Gilgoff, writing on “Obama Religious Reps Bow Out of Debate with McCain Team,” on Sept. 25 at the Beliefnet blog God-O-Meter

Religious taste

“A good deal of the progressives’ attitudes, preferences and sense of identity are ingrained in an unlovely disdain for those outside their charmed circle. In [author Christian] Lander’s analysis, much of their self-satisfaction derives from consumption (the slack-sounding ‘stuff’ in the title [Stuff White People Like] is deceptively apt) - and much of that consumption is motivated by a desire to differentiate themselves from the benighted. …

“At the top of this list is anything that has to do with Christianity’ - an aversion, Lander discerns, rooted not in religious enmity but in taste (Christianity is ‘a little trashy’), formed largely by class and education. To those of this mind-set, the problem with a great many Americans is that they don’t ‘care about the right things.’”

-Benjamin Schwarz, writing on “Intolerant Chic,” in the October issue of the Atlantic monthly

On its head

“What was a talented, determined young man of Jewish birth to do? [Benjamin] Disraeli could have ignored the taunts, flaunted his Christian credentials, and labored to distance himself from his family’s past, as was so common at the time. The path he chose, [author Adam] Kirsch convincingly explains, was in fact the opposite: to reject the stigmatized identity that English culture and society saddled him with, and ‘to reimagine his Jewishness as a glorious inheritance.’ …

“Disraeli’s imagination transformed the Jews into the linchpin of European civilization: They were the true aristocrats, the only people to whom God ever spoke directly (that is, revealed himself), already civilized when Europeans were still ‘tattooed savages.’ Not only were they talented and creative, but they were powerful as well, exercising enormous influence behind the scenes. …

“What Disraeli was doing was creating a countermyth of Jewish superiority, one that would turn contemporary, unflattering views of Jews on their head. It was a countermyth that also allowed him to mock, and thus take revenge on, the English aristocracy and gentry, whose snubs and slights he suffered.”

-Todd Endelman, writing on “The Making of Benjamin Disraeli,” in the Sept. 17 issue of the New York Sun

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