Friday, March 14, 2008

Looking at the Veep

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard runs through all the potential Vice-Presidential picks on offer to McCain and concludes that his best prospect is Mitt Romney. Maybe so, but one person Barnes doesn't mention who would surely enhance the ticket in the minds of the conservative GOP base McCain must reconcile with is Rick Santorum.

It isn't likely to happen, however, since Santorum dislikes McCain and has been outspoken in his opposition to him, especially early in the campaign. No doubt the feeling is mutual.

Even so, since Santorum is despised by the left for all the right reasons he'd would be a boffo selection at the GOP convention. His only real drawback, other than the personal issues with McCain, is that he's never been a governor, which, in my mind, is crucial preparation for the office of President. Other than that he'd be an excellent selection.

Perhaps the two could reconcile their differences, shake hands, and form a dynamite ticket.


Dispelling Darkness

Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychologist speaks truth to power in this video of a "debate" with an Egyptian Islamist:

Go here for more videos featuring Wafa Sultan. This one in particular is worth watching. One gets the feeling that her opponents in these debates are like high schoolers competing against a pro:


Remembering Sarah

David Horowitz has written a beautiful and very moving eulogy for his daughter who passed away last week at the age of 44.

Horowitz was a leftist radical in the 1960s who eventually came to believe that the left had no answers to our national problems so he became a conservative. His daughter, on the other hand, was a very liberal Obama campaign volunteer. The tension that existed between them and the gracious way she handled it and all the difficulties which life imposed upon her makes the father's remembrance all the sweeter.


Lonesome Dove

C.S. Lewis writes that man was created to be infinitely happy, and I believe this to be true, but I sometimes wonder whether happiness is really possible this side of heaven. Indeed, the area of life which should bring us our greatest happiness, our relationships with others, is really an existential minefield.

I was reminded of this over the last couple of nights as I sat down to watch the old television mini-series Lonesome Dove. I don't know what the main theme of the story was supposed to be, but the lesson that was driven home to me in every segment of the series is that our relationships with other people are inherently tragic. Every relationship in the film, there are about a half dozen major relationships and several lesser ones, is marred either by an inability to connect with the other or by heart-breaking tragedy.

Alienation, heartbreak and grief. It's the human condition, and Lonesome Dove artfully and dramatically reminds us that man's fallenness ripples across the span of our lives, isolating us from each other, even those we love, fracturing our relationships and robbing us of the intimacy and union we crave. Our fallenness places each of us in a bubble that prevents us from getting close to others, and sooner or later it causes each of us to suffer the loss of those who are the source of our greatest contentment and joy.

There are some who write of Christian hedonism, a provocative term designed, I suppose, to get our attention, and which denotes the idea that Christians are, or should be, the happiest people around. Maybe they should, but I'm not convinced.

We are called by Christ to empathize with others, to share in their suffering and pain. How can we look at all the sorrow and hurt all around us, if not in our own lives then in those of our neighbors - how can we pick up the newspaper and read of the myriad tragedies and horrors experienced every day by everyday people - and say that, even so, I'm happy.

It seems to me that the only way we can be happy in the face of so much human suffering is to shut ourselves off from the pain and heartache which surrounds us, to close our eyes to it and simply be egoists. If we are Christians, however, that option isn't open to us. We're obligated to carry on our shoulders not only our own cross but the crosses of others, and crosses don't conduce to happiness. As far as I know, Jesus promised us crosses in this life, but He never promised us happiness, not in this world, at least.

So, what then, someone will ask, is the advantage of being a Christian if it means that we must forego happiness? This is an odd question in a way. We should be Christians, not because it confers some advantage, but because we believe Christianity is true.

Beyond that, though, Christianity does confer an important advantage. In the midst of the hurt and alienation, in the midst of our loneliness and grief, we have an assurance that life won't always be like this. There will be a day when suffering and pain will afflict us no more, and genuine happiness, that infinite happiness Lewis talked about, will be attainable. It's a hope that those without God don't have, and it's the only thing that makes any sense out of our suffering now. It's the only thing that redeems life from being nothing more than a cruel and absurd joke.


Honorable People

Honor killing, that symbol of barbarism and depravity, is still alive and well, so to speak, among Israel's Arab population. The young woman in the story that follows is a divorcee who was shot because she was seen being "friendly" to men:

Police investigators noted that the attempted murder was meticulously planned. The youth had informed his family members that he was going to murder his sister early Tuesday morning, and then set off to do just that. He headed to the entrance of the village in a vehicle which he had borrowed from his brother, and awaited his sister's arrival. The youth then shot his sister, who was startled to see him and proceeded to kick her repeatedly in order to ensure that she was no longer alive.

Chief Superintendent of the Afula Police Department, Orli Malka, stated that "the young woman was clever enough to play dead so that her brother would stop kicking her." The shooter than called MDA medics and phone the police emergency hotline. "I just shot my sister," he said, all the while keeping vigil over what he assumed was his sister's lifeless corpse. The young man than informed his family that he had shot his sister and was warmly greeted, hugged and congratulated by his brother and other family members.

Since all cultures are equally worth celebrating it may reveal a woeful lack of tolerance and sensitivity to point out that in Western societies we usually save our congratulations for those who have done something kind or beneficial to the larger community, or who have achieved some distinction in a field of endeavor. Since I don't wish to appear so churlish I won't belabor the point. I'll just mention that in some cultures congratulations are apparently merited for rather less lofty accomplishments.

Lest you think this is merely an isolated incident there are links at the story to two other recent cases of honor killings in Arab-Israeli families. In one family eight women have been slain in the last six years. In another family the figure stands at seven. If we want to look for a silver lining in this, we might note, I suppose, that it's good that Arabs are so concerned about honor.

Why is it, though, that the least honorable people seem often to be the most obsessed with preserving their honor? In our own cities you can get shot for simply appearing to "diss" some marginally human thug, but even these neanderthals don't slaughter their own sisters just because they socialize with men.

HT: Hot Air