For all the saints in warfare, for all the saints in rest

We recently discussed the need for unity in the Church. But isn’t there already the only unity in the Church that really matters? All who believe and have been baptized in Christ are part of His Body, the Holy Christian Church. Isn’t it like the Kingdom of God, which is not something we have to bring on–though we pray for it to come–but already exists, since He already reigns, on Earth and in Heaven? As for an external, temporal, institutional unity, that might be wished for, but isn’t it already accomplished as a hidden, though no less genuine reality?

Anyway, the question for All Saints’ Day and All Saints’ Day weekend: Consider the confession in the Apostle’s Creed, “I believe in the communion of the saints.” What does that mean to you?

What’s so wrong with America?

Yesterday we discussed what’s so great about America, covering the gamut of national greatness from Americans’ strong professions of faith to the superiority of American ketchup. Now, following those great American traditions of giving everyone equal time and of welcoming patriotic self-criticism, let us discuss what is wrong about America.

No bigoted anti-Americanism from our international readers, please, just helpful suggestions for what we need to improve, if we only could. As for American cultural critics, I have noticed that those on the right and those on the left often complain about the same things!

If you commit a crime, don’t hate

The hate crime law has been expanded:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed and celebrated hate crime legislation that extends protection to people based on sexual orientation, sealing a long-fought victory to gay advocates. The president spoke of a nation becoming a place where "we're all free to live and love as we see fit."

The new law expands federal hate crimes to include those committed against people because of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It also loosens limits on when federal law enforcement can intervene and prosecute crimes, amounting to the biggest expansion of the civil-rights era law in decades.

"No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love," Obama said in East Room reception, surrounded by joyous supporters. "No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are, or because they live with a disability."

Civil rights groups and their Democratic backers on Capitol Hill have tried for a decade to expand the hate crimes law, but fell short because of a lack of coordination between the House and Senate, or opposition from President George W. Bush. This time, the bill got through when Democrats attached it to a must-pass $680 billion defense measure over the protests of Republicans. Obama signed the combined bill in a separate ceremony earlier on Wednesday.

Conservatives have opposed the legislation, arguing that it creates a special class of victims and could serve to silence clergymen or others opposed to homosexuality on religious or philosophical grounds.

As I understand it, this measure means that if someone commits a crime that is motivated by hatred against any of the protected groups, the penalty is increased. It also becomes a federal crime, so that if a local municipality doesn’t prosecute a crime hard enough, the feds can step in. Am I reading this right? How would this potentially silence clergymen from teaching that homosexual intercourse is immoral?

As it stands, Christians, as well as believers in other religions targeted for their faith, would also be a protected group. Might this law be applied to anti-Christian violence and harassment?

The marine who resigned over Afghanistan

Former Marine captain and Iraq war veteran Michael Hoh took a job in the foreign service as a diplomat serving in Afghanistan. He resigned, saying that we don’t really know what we are doing there and that the sacrifices are not worth it. Here is the news story. But now read this copy, which our own FWS has found a link to, of his actual letter. The details and the force of his statement come out more powerfully. He strikes me as a man of high professionalism and integrity. He makes good points, though I still fear what a Taliban victory over the United States of America would do for the jihadist revival.

Speaking truth to power

An exchange between CNN’s Campbell Brown and White House spokesperson Valerie Jarrett:

Brown: So do you think FOX News is biased?
Jarrett: Well, of course they're biased. Of course they are.
Brown: OK. Then do you also think that MSNBC is biased?
Jarrett: Well, you know what? This is the thing. I don't want to–actually, I don't want to just generalize all FOX is biased or that another station is biased. I think what we want to do is look at it on a case-by-case basis. And when we see a pattern of distortion, we're going to be honest about that pattern of distortion.
Brown: But you only see that at FOX News? That's all that–you have spoken out about FOX News.
Jarrett: That's actually not true. I think that what the administration has said very clearly is that we're going to speak truth to power.

Don’t the people in the White House know that THEY are the ones in power? That their crusade against their critics at Fox is trying to SILENCE people speaking truth to power?

Screading vs. Reading

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article about scholarship on the difference between reading from a page and reading from a screen (termed “screading”).

[Anne] Mangen notes the growing sub-field of screen reading studies, but finds that the "intangibility and volatility of the digital text" remain under-examined. She focuses first, then, on the material nature of digital and non-digital reading experiences. "Unlike print texts," she writes, "digital texts are ontologically intangible and detached from the physical and mechanical dimension of their material support, namely, their computer or e-book (or other devices, such as the PDA, the iPod or the mobile phone" (405).

This is important, she argues, because "materiality matters." The reading experience includes manual activities and haptic perceptions (what the skin and muscles and joints register), and so as activities and perceptions of that kind are changed from one kind of reading experience to another because of the object, the reading experience, too, will change.

The differences between screen and paper go deeper than the physics of each. They also involve the relationship the reader has to them. For Mangen, a crucial difference lies in the nature of the immersion in screen "worlds" as being distinct from the technology that facilitates it. In other words, the mouse, head set, and so on provide the entry into the visual world, but are not constitutive parts of it. "In contrast," she explains, "consider the sense of being immersed in a fictional world which is largely the product of our own mental, cognitive abilities to create that fictive, virtual (in the figurative sense of the word) world from the symbolic representations — the text, whether purely linguistic or multi-modal, digital or print — displayed by means of any technological platform." Books don't have tools to help readers make up that fictive world, and so they do it more with their own minds. . . .

One effect, Mangen maintains, is that the digital text makes us read "in a shallower, less focused way."

There are other effects as well, but this one is far-reaching. While "shallower" reading through or on the screen serves certain purposes quite well, when it comes to reading complex texts and interpreting, analyzing, or even summarizing them, a slower and deeper habit is needed.

I’m not sure I’m convinced. It definitely seems harder to read a long, sustained work on a screen as opposed to a book. Screading (if we are to adopt the word) does seem to work better for shorter shots of language. Let me ask you owners of Kindle or similar readers. Is your reading experience qualitatively different when you read on a Kindle vs. reading ink on paper? Are you missing anything?

For more:

HT: Jackie