In the News
1. ”New Polls Confirm Obama’s Democratic Base Crumbles.” Michael Warren comments.
2. Andrew Ferguson with a rather devastating portrait of Jon Huntsman.
In the Pews
1. Scot McKnight on “Labeling the Norwegian Killer.” I don’t disagree that the insanity of a mass-murderer typically puts him beyond normal categories like “Right” and “Left,” or “Christian” or etc., but (1) I do think it’s important to make the case that Breivik is not a Christian by any remotely plausible definition of the term, and (2) sometimes it’s legitimate to look into the ideology, religious or otherwise, that motivated and undergirded the act. In fact, if you begin by making the case that people such as Breivik are beyond categorization, this will come across as special pleading. I think you should first make the case that he is not Christian, and then make the case that the categorizations that apply to sane people do not apply to unhinged, immoral monsters like Breivik. In some cases, you will find a legitimate (and yes, I understand that defining that term here would be difficult) ideology underlying a madman’s actions, and that ideology should not be held accountable. In other cases, however, there are ideologies and movements that have strong trajectories toward violence, and that needs to be recognized.
On another note, apparently the maximum sentence Breivik could receive, in the Norwegian justice system, is 21 years.
2. Ron Sider writes in Christianity Today on why you should not give to beggars on the street. I often do give, but Sider, who is about as pro-social-justice as you can get, makes a good case.
3. This from New Yorker magazine is clearly a skeptical, unsympathetic-outsider take on The King’s College in NYC, but it does raise some troubling questions concerning whether Dinesh D’Souza is proving too divisive for the school and might lead to faculty defections. A story-line to watch, perhaps.
What I find irritating about the story are all the little allusions and insinuations. Take the following:
Smith and Dantzler take me to their dorm on Ludlow Street. Like dorm rooms everywhere, Dantzler’s smells of pizza boxes and unwashed socks. There is no King’s meal plan, Smith explains, so “the wealthier kids go out a lot, and the rest of us eat ramen and paninis.” (A female student later tells me that some young men at King’s have a different strategy: They gather in the women’s dorm and ask the ladies to cook for them.)
You see? Class- and gender-based discrimination! The writer doesn’t have to make the point explicitly, but of the thousands of details he might have noted, you can be sure he noted these for a reason. And we can be pretty sure what the reason is. The fact that this sort of thing happens at colleges of all stripes all around the country — I saw it all the time at Stanford, where I was an undergrad — is apparently irrelevant.