One Christian’s perspective on the day’s news:
0. Laura Ling and Euna Lee tell their own story. They tell it well. I’m reserving comment for later.
1. The Roman Catholic Church (as explained here) has issued a Prayerbook for Couples that looks quite nice, and that features a prayer to say together before sex. I like it. A nice counterweight to the animalization of sex in the broader culture, the focus on performance and self-satisfaction and gymnastic variety.
The prayer asks God ‘to place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes…Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will…Cover our poverty in the richness of your mercy and forgiveness. Clothe us in true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, for ever and ever.’
3. At Patheos I began a series of videos I call YEV? — or Why are you an Evangelical? I find that many friends and acquaintances, even Christian friends and acquaintances, don’t understand why a person would be Evangelical when there seems to be so much baggage with the term and even with the tradition. The series has led to some interesting videos, for sure. Yesterday I came across this blog entry from Parchment and Pen, where C. Michael Patton (whose material has appeared thrice at Patheos) explains why he believes evangelicalism is still the best option. Although his answer is slightly different from mine, it’s an excellent answer. For those who are willing to read a longer answer, the “Evangelical Manifesto” is probably the best place to go. But Michael Patton does a fine job of giving a more distilled response.
4. Next Tuesday the President will give an address directly to school children. Given the proper preparation and discussion (as laid out here), it’s an excellent educational opportunity. But I’m eager to see what the speech actually addresses. Hopefully his advisers are wise enough to steer him away from anything that could prove contentious.
5. Moving to hard news, it appears that the President is finally willing to abandon the public option. There are several questions: (1) Will Congress also abandon the public option? Many Congresspeople are saying no. (2) Is it possible that the Senate would drop the public option in order to get past a filibuster threat, and the House would pass a bill with a public option, and the public option would be included in the reconciliation process? (3) Many conservatives, since they believe that single-payer is the goal for the liberals who lead the Democratic party, will suspect that co-ops are merely a prelude to a public option — in effect, adding one more step on the stairway to single-payer.
David Axelrod previews the shape of their argument when he says that Obama’s “goal is to create the best possible situation for consumers, create competition and choice. We want to bring a measure of security to people who have health insurance today. We want to help those who don’t have coverage today, because they can’t afford it, get insurance they can afford. And we want to do it in a way that reduces the overall cost of the system as a whole.” The administration will emphasize “competition and choice,” “security,” broader coverage, and “reduc[ing] the overall cost.” To my mind, it strains credulity to the breaking point to claim that all of these things can be accomplished together. The tension is between “choice” and “reducing” cost on the one hand, and security (which means all sorts of mandates on who and what must be covered, meaning more expenses for insurers) and expanded coverage on the other.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how the hard left responds. This could be explosive. As Politico notes, the battle might benefit Obama politically, at least with independents, as he shows he is not entirely beholden to his base. The question is: will he gain more points form independents than he will lose from liberals? Obama is less concerned with losing liberals in the long term, since he can win them back before the election (though probably with less fanatical devotion). But he is rapidly losing the trust of independents, and that is a far more troubling development for him politically.
6. Good news for the millions of women who struggle with fertility.
7. BP made a “huge” oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. What might we discover if we were allowed to drill for exploration? We often hear that the United States might as well not drill for our own oil because we have only 4% of “the world’s proven oil reserves.” The key word there is “proven.” That means that we only know about enough oil to account for 4% of the world’s total. But the kicker: American law has prevented us from exploring for new oil for the past 25 years or so–and the technology of oil exploration has grown substantially since we were last allowed to explore. It’s verbal sleight of hand. Why, in the midst of a severe recession, we do not allow American companies, which would employ American workers, to explore American territory for a precious natural resource that Americans could use–especially when current technologies allow us to do so in an environmentally friendly way–is beyond me. Yes, ultimately we need to devise other energy technologies, but we will continue to use oil at a high or a low rate for the rest of our lifetimes, and it will always be valuable.
8. Amazing how “Big Brother” conspiracy theories arise among the opposition, no matter which party is in power. The fact that Bush did not in fact seize perpetual power and establish a theocracy (I actually saw this foretold on lefty sites) will not prevent Democrats from having conspiracy theories the next time a Republican is President. And conservatives tend to do the same. Some of them, at least. Then there are conservatives such as Michelle Bachman (who likes to compare herself to Sarah Palin, but she has nowhere near the charisma of Palin), who say that Obamacare would equal slavery. Let’s get a grip, folks.
9. Concerns rise over the H1N1 flu. And I understand; my baby daughter is allergic to egg, so she cannot have the flu vaccine. It worries me. But the CDC says that they find it quite likely that H1N1 is less dangerous than the regular flu.