And Amen

“Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban … At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question… Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals … If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

– George Orwell, from his proposed preface to Animal Farm, with thanks to Andrew Sullivan


In an airport bookstore recently, I saw a NASCAR-themed Harlequin Romance. I never would have predicted this hybrid, of which Harlequin writes, “The rush of the professional race car circuit; the thrill of falling in love. These NASCAR romances are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat as you read about the thrilling twists and turns both on the racetrack and on the track to love.”

Current titles include Overheated, Hot Pursuit, Slingshot Moves, Peak Performance and In the Groove.

Each year, NASCAR fans buy $2 billion in licensed products; women make up 40% of the sport’s fan base; romances account for nearly 55% of all paperback fiction sales and generate more than $1 billion. “It’s a very good fit,” said Marleah Stout of Harlequin.

School Days

“The old spurious hope and elegance of school days came back to him. How strange it was that school had nothing to do with life. The old talk of school as a preparation for life — what a bad joke. There was no relation at all. School made matters worse. The elegance and order of school had disarmed him for what came later.”

— from The Last Gentleman (1966) by Walker Percy

Connecting the Dots on Mockery and Torture

1. “Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate.” — Luke 23:11

“…he (Pilate) had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.” –- Matthew 27:26-30

2. A poll of white, Southern, evangelical Christians, commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Mercer University, found that 57% of those surveyed said that torture can be often or sometimes justified. Of those surveyed, 44% rely on life experiences and common sense to determine their views on torture, while 28% said they relied on Christian teachings or beliefs. — “Poll Shows Support for Torture Among Southern Evangelicals,” Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service, Sept. 11, 2008

3. “Activists at a conservative political forum snapped up boxes of waffle mix depicting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a racial stereotype on its front and wearing Arab-like headdress on its top flap. The box was meant as political satire, said Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, two writers from Franklin, Tenn., who created the mix…

“Obama is portrayed with popping eyes and big, thick lips as he stares at a plate of waffles and smiles broadly. Placing Obama in Arab-like headdress recalls the false rumor that he is a follower of Islam, though he is actually a Christian. On the back of the box, Obama is depicted in stereotypical Mexican dress, including a sombrero, above a recipe for ‘Open Border Fiesta Waffles’ that says it can serve ‘4 or more illegal aliens.’

“Wearing white chef’s aprons, Whitlock and DeMoss were doing a brisk business at noon Saturday selling the waffle mix to people crowded around their booth.” — “Forum Sells ‘Obama Waffles’ with Racial Stereotype,” Associated Press, Sept. 13, 2008

4. “A number of years ago, Mark Whitlock and I worked at Focus on the Family for Dr. James Dobson. Last year, our paths crossed again when I joined the staff of FamilyLife. What a real privilege it has been to have worked twice with such a talented and gifted man.” — Bob DeMoss, in a letter of reference for Mark Whitlock, February 10, 2004

Let’s see, avowed followers of Christ, perhaps familiar with the Bible. So did Christ mock and torture? Or was it Herod, Pilate, and their soldiers who mocked and tortured? And whom do such Christians serve today?


“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ So Moses stretched his hand over the sea… The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharoah that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.” — Exodus 14:26,28

“… it seems generally believed that the Indians will all fall into a trance, and when they awake they will find the whites have been buried with all their civilization, many feet below the surface of the earth, never to rise again, and the Indians, with all the dead restored to life, will remain upon the earth — renewed and made many more times more beautiful — alone to enjoy it. No more reservations, no more white men, no more soldiers, to disturb them; the prairies will be covered with grass waist-deep; the forest and the mountains alike will abound in buffalo, elk, deer, and antelope, more abundant than ever.” — “The New Indian Messiah” by Lt. Marion P. Maus, U.S.A., in Harper’s Weekly, December 6, 1890

Designing with Radon

“It’s not that all granite is dangerous, but I’ve seen a few (countertops) that might heat up your Cheerios a little.”

— Stanley Liebert, CMT Laboratories, Clifton Park, N.Y., quoted in “What’s Lurking in Your Countertop” by Kate Murphy, New York Times, July 24, 2008