Some good stuff:
1) First up a passionate cri de coeur from Alan Stewart Carl the last head of the National Centrist Network, (nee Centrist Coalition.) I love moments when someone simply states the impolitic truth:
I was a board member of the Centrist Coaltion and attended its one face-to-face meeting in New York. There was about fifteen minutes of hope . . . and then, as Alan says, air.
There Is No Vital Center
You read it right. I deny the existence of the vital center, the radical middle. It doesn’t exist.
Oh, there are centrists, believers in the fighting middle who espouse centrist ideas. But there is no political reality behind these people and their thoughts. There is no coherent philosophy or charismatic leader. Centrism is an amorphous idea – a fervent wish.
Which is why I think us self-described centrists are so often labeled frauds. I mean, after all, we still exist and debate and live in the world of left and right. Sure, we can say “there is another way,” we can even offer up new ideas but, at the end of the day, we have no foundation. We centrists are all air and no earth.
2) A beautifully-written post from Sippican Cottage. Here's a snippet, but I hate to edit this piece, so go and read it all.
(Thanks to Done With Mirrors which adds some additional context to the above.)
My father asks me for nothing, really. Every three months or so, I take him to his doctor, who pokes about him wondering what keeps him animated, and that's about it. He's grown frail, and has discovered the joys of "Not Going." It takes a lot to get him to leave the comfort and safety of his house. I was really surprised when he called me on Saturday, because he asked me to take him somewhere.
My father was a ball gunner on a B-24J Liberator bomber in the Pacific during WW2. He rarely spoke about that. My father and his confreres considered themselves part of a thing greater than the sum of their parts in it --or so it seems to me -- and more or less did what was expected of them as a sort of unpleasant chore, kept themselves safe as much as was practicable, amused themselves when possible, and got back to being regular people as soon as they could.
3) One of the most thoughtful college-age bloggers around, Chris Hallquist has a long post about his deconversion, his move from believer to atheist. Here's the concluding graph:
My response to defenses of Biblical attrocities and eternal damnation was different though. The more apologists tried to defend them, the more horrible they became. I really must thank the apologists for helping me grasp the full horror of orthodox Christianity. They are a major reason I do what I do today.That's less than a sample, go read the original.
My own deconversion came at age 16 when I was sitting in a Youngstown, Ohio Greyhound station. I was hitchiking cross-country and had stalled out in that cursed town, unable to get a ride in any direction from the Sunday morning church folk.
But that resentment wasn't the cause of my deconversion. Having nothing else to do in the bus station I started thinking about religion. (May have been that creep eyeballing me that got me into a critical state of mind.) I started with the paradoxes of omnipotence, slid over to the absurdity of an omniscient God who tranfers blame to his own creations, went from there to the utter idiocy of the Gospel story -- You people have pissed Me off, I'm gonna let you kill my Son, then we'll be fine -- and in a two hour wait for a bus to who knows where, I had crossed the line from Lutheran to atheist.
4) Apropos of religion, the ever-dry Jon Swift, tongue so deep in his cheek he must get a cramp, takes on the George Allen as Jew issue:
During a debate this week with his opponent, Jim Webb, George Allen was asked by reporter Peggy Fox if his mother's family was Jewish, which would make him, according to Jewish law, a Jew, even though he was raised a Christian. Allen reacted with outrage to this question. "To be getting into what religion my mother is, I don't think it's relevant," he fumed. "So I'd like to ask you, why is that relevant? My religion? Jim's religion ..."That's enough for now.
Of course, religion should have nothing whatsoever to do with a political campaign. As long as someone running for office has made it clear that they are a deeply religious God-fearing Christian (or Jew) and made at least one speech discussing how their religious faith has impacted on their values and demonstrated their opposition to taking religion out of the schools and government, then their religion should not even be raised as an issue.
Apparently, Allen has tried to keep people from knowing about his Jewish roots until he could come to terms with it himself. For years his mother hid this fact from him no doubt to protect him. She never told him the reason that his grandfather was arrested by the Nazis, a fact that he has mentioned in interviews to explain why he supports the War in Iraq. He probably believed it was because his grandfather was a gypsy or a communist or gay so imagine his shock upon learning that his grandfather was arrested for being Jewish.