1. Smell the religious liberty: “Christian-owned Hobby Lobby won’t stock Hannukah merchandise.” Just another glimpse of what happens when you redefine “religious liberty” as being all about the right to refuse service.
2. “Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers.” Every time anybody else has said that, Bill Donohue and the rest of the perpetually aggrieved indignation industry have thrown a hissy fit.
3. Anti-Muslim groups took in $119 million between 2008 and 2011. The Liar Tony Perkins reads that and laughs. Scaring people into giving you money by promoting fear of Muslims is pretty lucrative, but that $40-million-a-year industry still can’t compete with scaring people into giving you money by promoting fear of Teh Gay and fear of Satanic baby-killers.
4. Scott Paeth shares some excerpts from a recent interview with theologian Jürgen Moltmann, including this fascinating anecdote which shows, I think, how the world interrupts and reshapes the work of theology. In April of 1968, Moltmann was at Duke University, conducting a conference on his book Theology of Hope:
And then someone came storming into the room and cried, “Martin King is shot!” By the end of the day there were pictures of cities burning everywhere — the black population was enraged by the murder of the prophet of the civil rights movement. And then Durham came under curfew and we broke off the conference and they all rushed home as quickly as they could.
And then I saw that the theology of hope is not the right way to speak the gospel to Americans: they need to get a feeling of the suffering and violence and injustice in their country. And I promised that whenever I returned to that country I would speak about the cross of Christ and the cross of Martin Luther King and all the black people who had been lynched. And so I came to write The Crucified God. …
5. I am very happy to learn that there will be a Wendell Berry profile/tribute on TV. I am also aware of the irony of Wendell Berry on television, and the further irony of my learning about this on my computer.
6. Yes, this makes me feel better about not finishing Ulysses: Virginia Woolf said she gave up on it after 200 pages. OK then.
As to why other people read horror: I have no idea. Or rather I have a great many ideas, which amounts to the same thing. Maybe, by so flagrantly crossing lines, horror fiction reassures us that they still exist, in ourselves and in society. Maybe it helps us rehearse our own death, to prepare for it, stave it off or both. Maybe it provides a sense of meaning and control where none truly exist. Maybe it’s the counterfeit prey the zookeeper feeds the lion. Maybe it’s just fun. A strange sort of fun, some will say—but then, so is reading Finnegans Wake.