Thursday, July 22, 2004

not writing....but I am reading

Can't seem to get anywhere in my prep for Sunday morning. Which is bad, because I think I should do more than read James 1:9-18, say "amen," and sit down.

So, as I frequently do, I turn to some other writers for inspiration. Even if it's on a different topic, just reading something good will get me going. Hasn't worked yet today, but here are my top 5 columns of the week...

5. Kerry/Dole '04! by Jonah Goldberg

Imagine you are a war hero senator running for president. You have a very long and, for the most part, dull legislative record. You're stiff on TV and generally listless on the stump. You can't stop talking like a senator even though you know it leaves people cold. Your opponent, the incumbent, is presiding over a booming economy just emerging from the doldrums. Your base despises the president, but you need to reach out to moderates who are inclined to like him.

Wouldn't it make sense to fix your charisma deficit and bolster your ticket by picking an energetic, enthusiastic, appealing younger guy - somebody who both excites your party's base and charms the press by being polite and high-minded?

Well, that's certainly what Bob Dole was thinking when he picked Jack Kemp as his running mate in 1996.

4. Free the Schools! by Harry Browne
Education is a disaster. If you don't believe me, ask the politicians. Every election year they tell us how terrible the schools are — children not reading at their grade level, bullies running the schools, infrastructure falling down, drugs being sold in the schools, classes that are too large.

Of course, every politician has solutions in his pocket that will cure all these problems. But even after they impose their solutions, they keep coming back to tell us what terrible shape the schools are in.

3. What media bias? by Larry Elder Nothing earth-shattering here, just a good review...

2. The demise of literature by George Will
There have been times when reading was regarded with suspicion. Some among the ancient Greeks regarded the rise of reading as cultural decline: they considered oral dialogue, which involves clarifying questions, more hospitable to truth. But the transition from an oral to a print culture has generally been a transition from a tribal society to a society of self-consciously separated individuals. In Europe that transition alarmed ruling elites, who thought the ``crisis of literacy'' was that there was too much literacy: readers had, inconveniently, minds of their own. Reading is inherently private, hence the reader is beyond state supervision or crowd psychology.

Which suggests why there are perils in the transition from a print to an electronic culture. Time was, books were the primary means of knowing things. Now most people learn most things visually, from the graphic presentation of immediately, effortlessly accessible pictures.

People grow accustomed to the narcotic effect of their own passive reception of today's sensory blitzkrieg of surfaces. They recoil from the more demanding nature of active engagement with the nuances encoded in the limitless permutations of 26 signs on pages. Besides, reading requires two things that are increasingly scarce and to which increasing numbers of Americans seem allergic -- solitude and silence.

and the top column of the week is....
1. The Imperial Middle by Jonah Goldberg.
November 2 promises to be another in a long line of elections decided by those Americans who are the least engaged, least interested in, and least informed about politics.

and Goldberg thinks that's bad...and he's right.