The letters to the editor columns of the New Zealand Herald made me especially grumpy this morning. A couple of correspondents continued a campaign against the Bible and Christianity that has been running for nearly two weeks with editorial support from the Herald. You know the sort of thing: ours is a secular society so there’s no place for religious instruction in schools; everything good about Western civilisation came from the Romans or the Enlightenment; the Bible promotes killing, slavery, the oppression of women and exploitation of the environment …
I was still composing a searing riposte in my head when I opened my computer for the day and started checking a few newsletters. A headline caught my eye: “Possible sainthood cause for Chesterton sparks excitement”. GKC’s huge global fan club are thrilled that an English bishop is looking for a cleric to take charge of the cause. How would the great controversialist, I wondered, have replied to the ignoramuses who recycle parodies of religion from the websites of rationalists and the books of Dan Brown?
The answer came quickly: He did; with wit and charity. As Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society, says: “The biographical accounts of Chesterton always portray him as being very joyful, and humble and good, so that everyone was just drawn to that, including his intellectual and philosophical enemies. The people who violently disagreed with Chesterton on the issues were drawn to him as a person because of his charity.”
This is a standard – a combination of wit and charity – that we do strive for on MercatorNet and I for one would be happy to see Chesterton recognised as a model of heroic virtue in the world of journalistic cut and thrust. Besides, as Mr Ahlquist says, there is something attractive about the idea that a “300-pound, cigar-smoking journalist might be a saint of the Catholic Church.”
Of course, the process takes years and the candidate’s heavenly residence has to be established by two miracles. In the current state of the Press I suggest that one of these could be the purchase of the New York Times by a consortium of Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby and Hercules Industries (all owned by Christian families who have stood up for conscience and religious freedom recently). Perhaps readers could suggest another…
We have a further commentary today on Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ buy-out of the Washington Post. Brant Houston is optimistic about the passing of newspapers into the hands of smart money investors, suggesting it will lead to better quality news. Let’s hope.
Jennifer Bryson reviews a book by a young Muslim whose passionate hunt for truth and finds his criticisms of the faith refreshing but ultimately ambiguous. His quest is just beginning. Francis Phillips reviews a book in which British playwright Ken Ludwig presents a home-tutoring programme for introducing children to Shakespeare. There is still value in memorising passages from the Bard he insists.
Walter Schumm unpacks the oft-repeated slogan, “Same-sex parents are just as good at parenting as heterosexuals”, but asks who is doing the heavy lifting in society when it comes to parenting. And Margaret Somerville looks at the slippery slope – far from theoretical – to human embryo factories that begins with surrogacy and selling sperm and eggs. And Laura Cotta Ramosina reviews the summer blockbuster Wolverine.
There is much good reading in the blogs: Sheila Liaugminas’ analysis of moral rhetoric in current American politics; reflections on Robert Mugabe’s clinging to power in Harambee; on Britain’s need for immigration – or its own babies – in Demography; on Durex’s (dumb) advice to young men in Family Edge; and on a lovely book for littlies in Reading Matters.