I have been missing in action, most of the past few days, because of the start of the very first semester of the classes here at the Washington Journalism Center. If that really interests you, take a quick trip to this site to see the weblog that has just opened up. It will grow as the students get the hang of things in the first few weeks of classes and, ultimately, their internships in mainstream newsrooms. But I have been swamped (and this is not a reference to the rain outside my window). I have a few things to share and I'll try to get them online in the next day or so. We have another class meeting tomorrow -- with a lecture linked to the movie World Trade Center and post-movie dinner commentary by Bill Mattox of USA Today.
So, for starters, if you have ever wanted to hear what Rod "Friend of this Blog" Dreher sounds like, then OK, click here and listen to his NPR commentary on why living without air conditioning in one's car can, in Dallas (see photo), be a spiritual exercise. No, this is not directly linked to the doctrine of hell and damnation. And, yes, the image is a joke. There are no mountains in Dallas. I was born there and I know.
Meanwhile, let's move on to another newsy plug. Young master Jeremy Lott -- formerly of this weblog -- has coauthored a piece with Patrick Hynes for Financial Times (via MSNBC) arguing that traditional religious believers (some would say the Religious Right) are unlikely to abandon the GOP this fall, and that this is not a good thing for Democrats. A key statement therein:
Remember, Roe v Wade did not create the modern religious right. Former president Jimmy Carter did when he refused to rein in an Internal Revenue Service that had decided to go after the tax exemptions of private Christian schools that were not in compliance with civil rights quotas. Evangelicals could live with legalised abortion and bedlam in the public schools by removing their children from the system. It must have grated that they were paying to subsidise education they did not agree with and then paying again for private education for their children to opt-out, but Caesar was dutifully rendered unto, until he threatened to hike the cost of tuition.
The same dynamic persists today. The Democratic party elites cheer when regulators force Catholic charities to fund things the church considers immoral. They vote to curtail the freedom of conscience of pro-life pharmacists. They filibuster judicial appointees who do not hold to the interpretation of Ted Kennedy, senator, of the constitution-as-rubber-stamp for liberal causes. Worse, they compare religious rightists to Muslim terrorists ("Christianists") and warn that we have entered a new Dark Age. Garry Wills, the popular historian, called the 2004 election the end of the Enlightenment on American soil, and meant it.
The good folks who make up the religious right may not love the Republican party, but they know a threat when they see one. The modern Democratic party is hostile to their very existence.
Now, after you have read that piece, click here and see what another friend of this blog has to say about a related topic. I am referring to Amy Sullivan and her latest epistle -- there is a new one every month or so -- on the Democratic Party and its struggles to get religion.
This one is at that right-wing site (I'm joking) called Slate, and it's called "Not God's Party: A new poll shows Democrats are losing (more) religious voters."
Enjoy. I have to get back to class!