On the use and misuse of ‘-lover’ as a pejorative suffix

Shakespeare, a master of the insult as art form, wisely avoided the use of '-lover' as a pejorative suffix.

The suffix -lover is frequently used to produce pejorative epithets, but it has a dubiously hit-and-miss track record. It can, sometimes, be an effective insult-building suffix, but it also sometimes backfires spectacularly in a way that more reliable alternatives (-bag, -head, -hole, -pants, -wad, etc.) do not. So caution is advised. The main difficulty of using -lover to transform a word into an insult is, of course, that it winds up accusing someone of a virtue. … [Read more...]

We will hope for all we’re worth


A somewhat appropriate song from Roddy Frame, plus: Another religious right group frets over gay teachers; testamental balance on a pitching staff; pondering the Times’ bicentennial; conspiracy theories that lose track of “follow the money;” and a meditation on football in Texas, from the outside looking in. [Read more...]

‘Don’t compare your best with their worst’


Another look at Krister Stendahl’s Three Rules for Religious Understanding: 1. Let the believers define their religion, not their critics; 2. Don’t compare your best with their worst; 3. Always leave room for holy envy. [Read more...]

Slightly different construct, same function


Both of those scripts — the “Muslim-on-Muslim violence” narrative that mirrors our American “black-on-black violence” narrative, and the fearful “Clash of civilizations” narrative that projects inherent menace a la “Birth of a Nation” — require us to view Muslims as Other, and as essentially inferior. [Read more...]

Postcards from the culture wars (9.18)


“Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” [Read more...]

All are concerned with your little secret


A holy apparition of Frank Zappa, Jerusalem pork, another wicked Child, Kevin Sorbo’s meltdown continues, two more reasons I want to see “Calvary,” and “Here I sit / broken-hearted …” [Read more...]

What’s your excuse, baby?


Briallen Hopper addresses this same fearful, noncommittal standing in the middle in a terrific essay at Killing the Buddha called “White People Problems.” Hopper’s first hook involves the recent Facebook-beloved advice column from Andrew W.K., which epitomizes the way that irresponsible timidity gets repackaged as a lofty, above-the-fray, “Third Way.” [Read more...]

Of ‘croco-ducks’ and the Zeno’s paradox shell-game of creationism


Unlike Kirk Cameron, the professional hucksters driving young-Earth creationism — the Ken Hams and Al Mohlers of the world — understand enough about evolution and common ancestry to recognize that the search for a croco-duck is nonsense. They offer a more sophisticated version of Cameron’s “transitional forms” argument — one that is less ignorant and far less honest. [Read more...]