Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.

Friday, January 31, 2003  

Feed Your Brain Department: Greg Pulver (of Pulver Press fame) kindly pointed me to this article by Joseph Loconte: "The Prince of Peace Was a Warrior, Too."

Religious liberals are making the same mistake that often bedevils religious conservatives: They're grossly oversimplifying the Bible. It's true that Jesus put the love of neighbor at the center of Christian ethics. Forgiveness, not vengeance, animates the heart of God, offered freely to any person willing to renounce sin. But the Christian Gospel is not only about "the law of love," as war opponents like to put it. It's also about the fact that people violate that law.

That's why Jesus talked a great deal about punishment, and the moral obligation to oppose evil with a strong and swift hand. Human evil must be confronted, he said, not merely contained. Depending on the threat, a kind of "pre-emptive strike" or judgment against evil might even be required: "Be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). Allow the darkness to roam unchecked, Jesus said, and it will devour individuals and entire regimes. That helps explain why in the New Testament we see the Son of God rebuking hateful mobs, casting demons into the abyss, chasing religious charlatans out of a temple with a whip. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth," he said. "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34).

Read it. Think about it. Let me know what you think.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:56 PM

Thursday, January 30, 2003  

Good Things Come In Small Packages Department: Performing abortions has never been easier and safer. And it's also extremely profitable. But--to borrow Yogi Berra's phrase--doctors are staying away from abortion in droves. Why?

According to Dr. Sydney Smith, it's because technology is giving us a clear view of pre-natal life.

In the thirty years since [Roe v. Wade], science and technology have continued their forward march. Ultrasound has advanced from the grainy black and white shadows of yesteryear to movies in living color. Fetoscopy has evolved from a diagnostic tool to a fetal surgical instrument for correcting congenital abnormalities, in some cases as early as 14 weeks into pregnancy. In 1973, 90% of babies born at 28 weeks died, now more than 90% live. Little wonder that obstetricians no longer treat pregnancy as a disease, and now focus their attention on the well-being of both the fetus and its mother.

And it's this change in focus more than anything else that explains the reluctance of physicians to perform abortions. Who, after all, could consider a fetus as life unworthy of living, once they've held its hand?

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:11 AM

Wednesday, January 29, 2003  

What's In A Name Department: David Boaz questions the use of the phrase "pro-choice" by current crop of Democratic presidential candidates, with some interesting (and amusing) observations. It boils down to this: Abortion is the only "choice" that these guys seem to support.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:09 AM

Calling Things By Their Right Names Department: In last year's SOTU address, President Bush introduced the phrase "Axis of Evil." Most of the usual suspects got their knickers in a knot over that; how can anyone in this <fe>"enlightened"</fe> day and age actually apply the word "evil" that way. The whole notion is childish, isn't it?

No. It isn't. In last night's SOTU, Bush said the following:

The dictator, who is assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons, has already used them on whole villages - leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained - by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape.
If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.
James Lileks welcomes that kind of language, especially the use of the word "evil."
Just to put the screws to the sophisticated, Evil made a particularly vivid cameo: after recounting the horrors that befell the 200,000 political prisoners killed by Saddam (NYT stats; go argue with them) we had this: "If this is not evil, then evil has no name." This will occasion another round of eye-rolling among those who are less worried about the 200,000 than they are about the role Bush played in downing Wellstone’s plane, but even in European capitals some learned men may have felt a twinge in that empty socket where their conscience once resided. Because - and here’s a point I don’t hear discussed much - even if Saddam turns over everything, he’s still in power. He’s still in control of the apparatus of state terror, and should his black heart seize up and he dies, then come his sons. Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss.

The full text of the President's speech is here.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:58 AM
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