South Park – North Park – Golden Hill

Friday, June 9, 2017

Two Honest Men

Looking for the Antichrist
If one were to believe much of the mainstream press, you'd think Donald Trump is the cause of everything that is going wrong in the world. Take the outcry this last week:
In the wake of the Trump administration's decision to exit the Paris climate accord, many on the left seem to be writing an obituary for the planet. "Trump to Planet: Drop Dead," wrote CNN. And the Huffington Post. And the New York Daily News. USA Today, by contrast, went with the more nuanced: "President Trump to Planet Earth: Drop Dead."
According to Josiah Neely, energy policy director for the R Street Institute (among others I read this week, e.g., here), the real problem is that the Paris climate accord isn't as effective as one might hope:
Not only is participation in the Paris accord voluntary, but each country is charged with setting its own emissions-reduction goals, however stringently or laxly they wish. Should a country later change its mind or simply not meet its own goals, there is no penalty. Unsurprisingly, even if every country meets their Paris commitments, this will not reduce emissions enough to avoid what scientists predict to be dangerous levels of warming over the coming century.
The Paris accords were in large part a symbolic gesture—more nations than ever acknowledged that something needs to be done. And that is surely worth something. I for one am deeply troubled by the President's cavalier attitude toward creation (both as a Christian and an outdoorsman of sorts—fly fisher). But we mustn't imagine the future of the planet is in his hands nor that he's president for life.

Andrew Bacevich drives home this point more broadly in "Not the 'Age of Trump.'"
Melodramatic references to an "Age of Trump" that suddenly commenced in November 2016 obscure this reality. Simply put, our collective fixation on the person and foibles of Trump the individual causes us to overlook what is actually going on. And what is actually going on is something that Donald Trump hasn't, won't, and can't affect.
Then he goes on to show how social conservatives have the same bad habit when they blame liberal institutions, like The New York Times, for this lamentable trend or that.
Nominally, the Times provides its readers with "All the News That's Fit to Print." In practice, it prints "All the Views Deemed to Matter." Among the things that matter most at the Times are changes in the prevailing definition of freedom. … The Times equates freedom with maximizing personal autonomy, a proposition especially applicable to all matters related to race, gender, sex, and sexuality.
But as Bacevich notes, the Times is merely reflecting a larger social trend that has been growing for some time.
My argument here is not that the Times itself is somehow responsible for this revolution. While it may encourage, approve, or certify, it does not cause. As the paper of record, the principal function of the Times is to bear witness. In that regard, it performs an essential service. But if the Times went out of business next week, the forces promoting a radically revised conception of freedom would persist, their momentum unchecked.
It would be a wonderful world if we could so easily spot the enemy on the left or the right. But it is not a wonderful but a fallen world, which traffics in self-delusion and self-justification, as well as vilification and blame, refusing to look at the part each of us plays in the moral and political confusion of our day.

The ability to name the reality at hand, despite prevailing attitudes, was one thing that Winston Churchill and George Orwell had in common. Such is one theme in a new book about them, reviewed here.
[Author Thomas Ricks] considers them as whole individuals who also displayed virtues that are compellingly relevant to our own time. The result is a feast of a book, laden with observations and insights that enable us to see these familiar figures, and through them our own time, in a fresh and illuminating light.
I found review in the NewStatesman itself to be "laden with … insights." As well as a few good Churchill and Orwell stories.
Let Forgiveness Prevail
On a happier note, once in a while human beings manage to get in touch with the better angels. That has certainly been the case with Egypt's Copts, who show us another shining example of forgiveness in the aftermath of mayhem and murder of their brothers and sisters by radical Muslims. Muslims are apparently stunned by the Copts' response—and deeply moved.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

No comments: