(The following is from an article for an upcoming issue of PRISM magazine. Frankly, the lead-time for that bimonthly is so long I've lost track of when this will be published — it could be July/August 2005.) A summer camp counselor once told me, "If you can't tie a good knot, tie a lot of them." Congress seems to be following this advice in recent months as they have considered a series of massive, messy omnibus bills. These proposals, often… Read more

From the front page of today's Life and Leisure section of the paper where I work we learn of the marvels of the global economy. "Tech gifts under $50" the headline proclaims, and the article goes on to describe a cornucopia of ridiculously affordable software, electronics and high-tech wonders all available to us at remarkably low prices. Truly this demonstrates the dazzling potential of the global economy to bring us the consumer items we want at the low, low prices… Read more

Saddam's capture is clearly the best news to come out of Iraq in months. It is a necessary step toward accomplishing the grandly ambitious goals the Bush administration has laid out as the purpose of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. By all means, let's celebrate this capture, but let's not pretend — as so much of the media coverage seems to be doing — that this signifies the successful completion of the mission. Take for… Read more

When you work at a newspaper, getting called in on your day off usually means something bad has happened. Big news is usually bad news. But not this time. The capture of Saddam Hussein is tremendously good news. More on this later — for now I'm going to go get me some time-and-a-half. N.B.: By chance, this account from ABC News Australia was the first I read. An unintentionally amusing bit at the end, as the report loses track of… Read more

When I first read Paul Krugman's column in today's New York Times, I was disappointed to find him musing on the possible motives behind the Bush administration's latest diplomatic screw-up: James Baker sets off to negotiate Iraqi debt forgiveness with our estranged allies. And at that very moment the deputy secretary of defense releases a "Determination and Findings" on reconstruction contracts that not only excludes those allies from bidding, but does so with highly offensive language. What's going on? Maybe… Read more

That's the name of Wal-Mart's cheaply made and cheaply sold, imported house brand jeans: "Faded Glory." The uber-retailer also now offers Levis. Well, not Levis exactly, but Levis "Signature" line — a cheaply made and cheaply sold, imported imitation of the classic American-made jeans. Charles Fishman has the details on this and much more in "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know," which focuses on the devil's bargain that suppliers must agree to in order to see their wares stocked on the… Read more

Okay, we've all read plenty of tributes to the late Johnny Cash. But here's one more, by Peter M. Candler in, of all places, First Things. "If I were going to believe in God, I would believe in the God of Johnny Cash." Me too. (See previously "Here's Johnny" and "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.") Read more

Finally got around to reading Jay Tolson's U.S. News cover story "The New Old-Time Religion." It's a pretty good sweeping overview of the history of the notoriously hard-to-define religious current that is evangelical Christianity in America. Tolson talks to several of the usual suspects, including the three historians who are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand these "evangelicals" who, Gallup tells us, constitute 4 out of 10 Americans. Those three would be George Marsden and Nathan Hatch, of… Read more

(Have to hurry here to make the obvious joke before everyone else does …) Just in time for Christmas, the National Archives has released another 240 hours of White House tape recordings from then-President Richard Nixon. The juicy bit concerns Nixon's thoughts on another former California governor — Ronald Reagan: Talking politics with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, at Camp David, Md., in August, Nixon switched the conversation to two Republican governors: Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller of New York…. Read more

Left Behind, pp. 25-27 “If you’re a seeker and you need a guide, someone to counsel you so you can find your way forward into a spiritual realm. And you’re on an airplane. Don’t look in first class.” — John Patrick Shanley in Joe Versus the Volcano Our heroes, isolated from the world aboard their transatlantic flight, have thus far received no news from the outside world, and are still unaware that the mysterious disappearances are a global phenomenon. That… Read more

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