Demonizing the Republicans

Kathleen Parker gives some good examples of demonizing your opponent:

So why do Republicans hate art, the elderly and children?

Hint: Same reason parents hate their children when they say, “No.” We could just leave it at that, but this is too much fun.

The demonizing of Republicans for trying to seriously address our desperately ailing economy surely begs for a new metaphor. The GOP has become the army of Mordor, fat-gobbed predators who feed on children while destroying all that is beautiful in their relentless pursuit of greed.

Or so one would infer from the fiery rants emanating from the bowels of Capitol Hill and Hollywood.

“Why are the Republicans trying to kill the arts?” Chris Matthews on “Hardball” asked actor Kevin Spacey, who was in Washington to protest cuts to the arts. Elsewhere, actor Tim Robbins compared proposed cuts to an “old miserly man snatching a crayon out of a baby’s hand.”

He hoped that “more adult minds will prevail.”

Indeed.

Everyone is calling for adults these days. President Obama insisted that Congress “act like grown-ups,” adding that we don’t have time for games. I’m not sure where these adults are going to come from since almost no one seems to want to be one. Meanwhile, the vocabulary of evil and apocalyptic imagery has punctuated criticism of the GOP’s proposed 2012 budget, not to be confused with the 2011 budget.

It is helpful at this juncture to recall that Democrats failed to produce a budget last year, despite controlling the White House and both houses of Congress. But back to the end times:

Jonathan Chait at the New Republic declared the proposed GOP budget “wildly cruel,” while Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) projected a biblical “no room at the inn” scenario with “lights out, doors wide open and the drumbeat playing as people are being rolled out of nursing homes in wheelchairs, with crutches, some on beds.” . . .

Gamesmanship can be entertaining when the stakes are small. But as the president correctly noted, the economy is not child’s play. As painful as the truth is, we can’t continue to live beyond our means. Every category of spending will have to take a hit, and we’ll have to figure out how to make the sucker float with a minimum of suffering. In the meantime, we might relax our reflexes just a tad and give hysteria a rest.

via Demonizing the GOP, losing the budget battle – The Washington Post.

PETA demands personal pronouns for animals

 

And in Bible translations, no less:

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for a more animal-friendly update to the Bible.

The group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls “speciesist” language and refer to animals as “he” or “she” instead of “it.”

The NIV is a popular translation of the Christian Bible. An updated translation was released this month. The translators said 95% of the 1984 translation remains the same. But the committee of scholars made a move to be more gender-inclusive in their translation into English from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. . . .

PETA is hoping the move toward greater gender inclusiveness will continue toward animals as well.

“When the Bible moves toward inclusively in one area … it wasn’t much of a stretch to suggest they move toward inclusively in this area,” Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s vice president for policy, told CNN.

via PETA: Don’t call animals ‘it’ in the Bible – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

Going kinetic

New word department. . . Actually two new words:

“Retronym” is a word coined by Frank Mankiewicz, George McGovern’s campaign director, to delineate previously unnecessary distinctions. Examples include “acoustic guitar,” “analog watch,” “natural turf,” “two-parent family,” and “offline publication.” Bob Woodward’s new book, Bush at War, introduces a new Washington retronym: “kinetic” warfare. . . .

In common usage, “kinetic” is an adjective used to describe motion, but the Washington meaning derives from its secondary definition, “active, as opposed to latent.” Dropping bombs and shooting bullets—you know, killing people—is kinetic. But the 21st-century military is exploring less violent and more high-tech means of warfare, such as messing electronically with the enemy’s communications equipment or wiping out its bank accounts. These are “non-kinetic.”

via “Kinetic warfare.” – By Timothy Noah – Slate Magazine.

Can you think of any other retronyms?  (There used to be no need for “two-parent family,” since what other kind of family was there?  Now we need a term for the distinction of a family having two parents.  Now that we have “gay marriage,” I suppose we’ll need a retronym for “straight marriage.”)

Can you think of any other uses of “kinetic” (involving action) and “non-kinetic” (not involving action) for a retronym other than for warfare?  Say, for a program in its planning stage being “non-kinetic” and when it is implemented being “kinetic.”

Black swans

In the new words department:

The disaster bureaucrats talk about black swans: calamities from out of the blue, terrible and strange. The world is now transfixed by the black swan disaster of Japan — an earthquake larger than seismologists thought could happen in that part of the country, leading to a tsunami too big for the sea walls, and now a nuclear crisis that wasn’t supposed to be possible.

via Japan’s ‘black swan’: Scientists ponder the unparalleled dangers of unlikely disasters – The Washington Post.

I like new terms that are not mere abstractions but vivid images.  “Black swan” gives us a picture of something that is very unlikely, but that occasionally, creepily, happens.  (It turns out, though, that there is a whole species of black swans in Australia that wasn’t discovered until the 18th century.)

See this for “black swan events”

Karl Popper uses the example of a black swan to show how, contrary to naive scientism, you can’t jump from the observation of particulars to make universal conclusions, but how particulars are useful to meet the criterion of falsifiability.

Then there is the ballet movie Black Swan, which plays off of some imagery in Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake , but that’s different, positing in the white swan and the black swan a contrast between purity and sensuality.

Now that we apparently have a new word, what are some other rare, unexpected, and weird calamities that would qualify as black swans?

Good writing

World Magazine is planning to set up regional online bureaus to provide local and regional news coverage.  The first one is for Virginia and is making use of journalism students at the school where I work, Patrick Henry College.  One of my former students, Hannah Mitchell, has written a feature story on a big Picasso exhibit at a Richmond art museum.  It struck me as just a very, very good piece of writing.  See for yourself:  WORLD Magazine | Picasso’s tragedy | Hannah Mitchell | Mar 01, 11.

What I’d like us to do is discuss what is good about this particular piece of writing.  Let’s not talk about Picasso, as such.  Let’s talk about how Hannah approaches him, how she sets up her article, her style, and her good lines.

For example, I like the sentence where she describes a professor speculating about Picasso’s art.  She describes him as “wondering through the exhibit.”  Get it?  wandering/wondering?  A wordplay that shows genuine wit.

What else?  What’s good about this article in the way it’s written?

You (already) are the salt of the earth

In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Douthwaite made an important grammatical point.  You know in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth” and “you are the light of the world”?  The verb is an indicative:

It’s not an imperative, a command. Jesus is not saying you have to, must be, or should be this – it is what you ARE.

It is what your Saviour has worked in you and made you by His grace.The challenge is to BE who you ARE. To live as a spiritual being and not just an animal who lives and eats and procreates. To live in the image of God and not try to be the image of others in the world – sports stars or celebrities or others we think successful. To live as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. That is a challenge because satan is constantly tempting you to BE something else, something less than you are, and making that less look like more.

But do not be fooled. You are more than all that. You are a child of God who has been illuminated in Holy Baptism. You are a child of God who has been salted by the Holy Spirit. That is who you ARE.

And so you are that which salts the earth.You are that which gives light to the world.That is your identity – and, your calling. It is part and parcel of your life in Christ. No one else has this calling. Only children of God in Christ Jesus.

And so enlightened by Him, Jesus says, BE who you ARE. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

These words of Jesus today reveal that God has vested you with an incredible honor and purpose in life. That your life is not pointless or useless. That to be a child of God is not like standing on the corner waiting for the bus to heaven, but to be living, breathing Gospel.

via St. Athanasius Lutheran Church.

How do we salt the earth?  How are we already serving and having an influence by “being” rather than “doing”?  Similarly, Christians often talk about winning the world for Christ and that sort of thing.  But if He is Lord, isn’t He already reigning over the world?