Morning Report, June 17: The Hitchens Boys, Tea Party Effusions, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Special-Needs Families, Raising Children Today, and Gail Collins, Karl Rove and Michael Barone

1.  SIBLING RIVALRY.  At First Things, Theodore Dalrymple (no relation) reflects on sibling relations and faith/atheism in the cases of Christopher and Peter Hitchens.  Dalrymple is himself an atheist, but not by any stretch the kind of strident, hateful atheist that the more famous of the Hitchens brothers is.  Dalrymple is also a conservative and a brilliant writer; everything he writes is well worth your time, and this is no exception.

Also see Christopher Benson’s reflection (or quotation, at the Evangel blog at First Things) on Hitchens’ transcendent sense of his own rightness…until he changes his mind.

2.  TEA PARTY EFFUSIONS.  Also at first things, see The Anchoress’ very helpful reflections on my piece, just published yesterday, on the Tea Party movement.  Oh, and read my piece while you’re at it! 🙂

3.  THE HOLE IN ‘THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL’.  At The Gospel Coalition site, Kevin DeYoung is becoming a go-to source for careful, critical book reviews.  Check out his review of Richard Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel.  I share both DeYoung’s admiration for the extraordinary work that Stearns does at World Vision and his concerns regarding Stearns’ theology.

4.  VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER.  The trailer for the next movie in the Narnia series can be seen here at HollywoodJesus.  It takes a while to load, but it’s worth the wait.  Take a look.  The movie will appear in Digital 3D.

5.  SPECIAL FAMILIES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS.  When our good friends, W. and T., learned that their second child had entered the world with Down’s Syndrome, their friends did not quite know how to respond.  Everyone was grateful that God had brought a new child into their lives.  There was a strong desire to say “Congratulations.”  Yet there was also a desire to say, “I’m sorry.”  I’m sorry, that is, that your hopes for a fully healthy child were not exactly realized; I’m sorry that you have to wrestle with this when you should be in unbridled celebration about your new daughter; and I’m sorry that this is going to require a great deal of effort from you over the course of your life.

What struck me the most, however, was the way in which W. and T. accepted that this had probably been God’s intention all along.  This was not only because of family medical history, but they had long had a sense that God might have been preparing them for a special-needs child.  And if God were to choose one family for all the patience and love and hard work that a special-needs child requires, He could not have chosen a better family than theirs.

Amy Julia Becker tells a similar story at her blog, Thin Places.  Of course it cannot be the case in every instance, but it does seem as though God prepares some families for the special challenges – and the special joys – that will be theirs.  I am reminded of one of my favorite sayings: “God does not always call the qualified, but he always qualifies the called.”  God will expand your heart, sharpen your mind, prepare you and train you for the calling he has set upon your life.


5.  GET A JOB?  The jobs market remains weak, as initial jobless claims rose for the second straight week.

6.  OIL RAGE.  The vehemence with which some liberals – even true believers like Joy Behar and Janeane Garofalo – are turning against Obama on the oil spill response is frankly astonishing.  Eugene Robinson, too, has a nice criticism of the credential-worship that finds it necessary at every drop of a hat to inform the nation that the Energy Secretary has a Nobel prize.

7.  PARENTING IN THE STORM.  Abby Sunderland is the 16-year-old sailor who was attempting to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo.  Here is one argument that her parents were doing precisely what parents should do: trust their children and let them challenge themselves.  Bruce Barcott calls it “courageous parenting,” as opposing to the kind of helicopter parenting that hovers always over the children and never lets them experience the risks, and sometimes the painful falls, of life in the real world.

“Raising kids today (I have an 11-year-old and an 8-year-old) is like working on a construction site with an overzealous risk manager. Everywhere you look there are signs reminding parents that Safety Is Job One. We’re told to cut up hot dogs and grapes to prevent choking, to lash the kids into car seats, to never let them out of sight at the park. A certain amount of this is progress, of course. I’d rather my kids not launch through the windshield like human missiles in a head-on, thank you.

But in our obsession with safety, we’ve lost sight of the upside of risk, danger and even injury: raising bold children who are prepared for adventure and eager to embrace the unfamiliar.

The habitat of my own children is constrained. It contains entirely too many screens and couches. And this constraint is not unique to my family. As Richard Louv pointed out in his groundbreaking book, “Last Child in the Woods,” kids are playing outside less often and for ever-shrinking periods of time. Sandra Hofferth, a researcher at the University of Maryland, found that the amount of time kids spent outside doing things such as walking, hiking, fishing and beach play declined by 50% between 1997 and 2003. Not long ago, up to half of the kids in this country walked or rode their bikes to school. Now fewer than 1 in 5 do. That inactivity has consequences. In the 1960s, less than 5% of American kids were obese. Now it’s pushing 20%. So seldom do kids wander in the woods that “nature deficit disorder” has become a common concern among parents of my generation.”

8.  ANOTHER WINNER.  Lauren Winner with one of her usual, finely shaded reflections, this time on the idea of the Christian Incognito, that Christians should sometimes conceal their faith identities in being as “wise as serpents.”

9.  All of our sanctions and tough talk against Iran are really starting to pay off!

10.  International financial guru Marc Faber says that governments are expanding “like a cancer.”  The biggest problem “is too much intervention,” since “Whatever the government touches is usually done worse than in the private sector.”

11.  This would be quite a shock.

12.  TODAY’S TWO SIDES.  Commentary on Obama’s speeches is becoming a cottage industry.  Gail Collins for the Left and Nick Gillespie for the right.

13.  TODAY’S TWO-SIDES, PART TWO: On health care reform, Stella Fitzgibbons for the Left and Karl Rove for the Right.

13.  COLUMN OF THE DAY: Is there any political commentator more worth listening to than Michael Barone?

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  • RT @patheos: Morning Report, June 17: The Hitchens Boys, Tea Party Effusions, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,

  • Philipa

    “hateful atheist”, you think Christopher hitchens is ‘hateful’?

    Hate is a very strong word and I don’t think you’re being very Christian at all. If you’re “Exploring how to live, love and think Christianly” then look to yourself and take out that plank why don’t you?

  • Athletic Soul Admin

    Philipa, I’m sorry you took offense, but I do think it’s a pretty accurate characterization. I don’t see how anyone can read the various things that Hitchens has written about devout believers and not interpret them as hateful of Christianity, actually.

    He may not hate individual Christians. But he has a fair amount of hatred toward Christianity and toward devout Christians in the abstract. He more or less says so himself. Have you read much of his work on the subject?

    If a person is hateful, I don’t think calling him so is un-Christian. It would be un-Christian to distort the truth about a person, but he’s pretty open about his feelings in this case.


  • Philipa

    Tim, you characterise Christopher Hitchens personally as hateful for publishing his opinion of religion. You do not say his books are worthy of your hatred but that he is. Yes, that IS un-Christian and rather proves the point CH makes about religious believers: to hate or kill people because they don’t belive in your particular brand of religion is wrong.

    What would Jesus do?

    I’ve read Christopher Hitchens’ work and don’t have a problem with it, and seen him debate and met him in person. In fact I have more of a problem with Peter Hitchens.

    I really think you should read more of Christopher’s work, like that he doesn’t deny there may in fact be a God and that he likes evensong and is particularly fond of the King James Bible. Yes, that’s CHRISTOPHER.

    Plank. Eye.

  • Athletic Soul Admin

    Philipa, you seem to be misinterpreting the grammar of the statement. I am not saying that he is worthy of my hate. I do not hate Christopher Hitchens. I am saying that he hates Christianity. In fact, I have read plenty of his work, and I think it’s a pretty non-controversial statement.

    I am not talking about the possibility of the existence of God, and the fact that he enjoys the aesthetics of certain artifacts of Christianity is beside the point. I am talking about his regard for historical Christianity as a church and a system of belief. He hates Christianity, and there is nothing hateful in my saying that he does. Would it be unChristian of me to say that Al Gore hates environmental destruction?

    For instance, Hitchens told a crowd at the University of Toronto: “I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.” The preeminent religion he treats with ridicule, hatred and contempt is Christianity.

    I don’t hate him for it. At least he’s honest about it! But it’s simply a fact that he is hateful.

  • Philipa

    No, I disagree, the religion he seems to dislike the most is Islam, and here’s an example of why:

    “Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive and co-founder of Facebook, is facing a police investigation for blasphemy in Pakistan, BBC Urdu reported Thursday.

    Police in the country’s Punjab province have confirmed they have initiated formal proceedings against the owner of Facebook.

    Last month, the social networking site featured a page that invited users to post drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. Islam considers any drawings of the Prophet as blasphemy.

    According to the Pakistani newspaper the News International, a Pakistani High Court judge asked for police action after lawyer Muhammad Azhar Siddique filed a First Information Report claiming that Facebook had committed a heinous and serious crime under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

    The Section says that defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet shall be punished with death.. ”

    CH hates the tyranny and stupidity of religion but you seemed to hate him, or were most incautious with your choice of grammar:

    “Dalrymple is himself an atheist, but not by any stretch the kind of strident, hateful atheist that the more famous of the Hitchens brothers is.”

    But I thank you for your reply and am heartened you don’t hate Christopher. I can’t say I’m all that keen on the tyranny of religion myself, especially as I’m female. And no, if I want to know anything I don’t ask my husband, thankfully I can read.

    Who wrote which quote, Peter or Christopher:

    “theology, about which I know little and in which I have no great interest”

    “I know the King James Bible pretty well. It’s a fantastic document. I could not imagine my life without it.”


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