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31 October 2004

Gross Burberry

{pictureRef (, align:”left”)}I often peruse the couple
announcements in the Times, just to see what’s going on among the
Northeastern elite class.  Usually, they are pretty
standard.  At least one person has a parent in the
Boston-Washington corridor, or the couple are from New York. 
Someone has an Ivy League or Ivy-equivalent degree or two.  And
occasionally there’s a photo.

But this one made me retch.  Same for BF.  It’s not the text so much as the photo.  The obvious shmoopiness combined with the Burberry scarf wrapped around both of them
Power elite, party of two.  It’s all too reminiscent of the “Sex
in the City” episode where Charlotte spends a maddening amount of time
and effort to compose a picture of her fiance and her; she has studied
the wedding page in great detail to find out what the NYT is looking
for so she can guarantee that her picture goes in.  This one is so
obviously such an attempt, it’s hard to take it seriously.

Sends shivers up and down my spine.

Let it never be said that recent gay weddings have exhibited the height of bad taste.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 31 October 2004 at 1:53 pm by Nate

Give thanks to the Sox, for they are great…

In the Fourth

Antiphon:  Give thanks unto
the Sox, for they are great*
their right hands and mighty arms have given us the victory.

Sorely have they afflicted me from my youth, let Boston now
sorely have they afflicted me from my

Too long have we borne the jeers
of Gotham*
too long the Yankees have humbled us to the dust.


And when I looked toSt. Louis, my heart cleaved to my
but in the morning, they were not to be
by midnight the Cardinals had been clean swept away.

Form a procession from the gates of Fenway into the midst
of the city*
let all the faithful of Beantown clap their
hands in joy


How beautiful are the feet of them*
that hit homers with players on
There goes David mighty batter before the crowd*
there go Johnny and Trent in the midst of


The right hand of Curt has triumphed! *

The right hand
of Pedro has been victorious!

As for me and my house, we shall sleep in
rest and quietness*
for the Pennant Race and World Series are over
at last.

Antiphon: Give thanks unto
the Sox, for they are great *
Their right hands and mighty arms have given us the victory.

Posted in RmAuNsDiOnMg on 31 October 2004 at 10:51 am by Nate
30 October 2004

Red Sox Nation Exhaustion

I’ve been meaning to write, but I’ve been sucked deep into the bowels of Red Sox
Nation for the last three weeks, so like everyone else here in New England, I
have been subsisting on too little sleep for too many

{pictureRef (, align:”left”)}It’s been a mad whirlwind of
a baseball ride here.  Two weekends ago, BF and I were on the
South Shore of Mass. Bay (about 25 miles to the south of Boston on the
coast), on a weekend retreat with the other graduate students in his
department, and we were there, soaked in misery and gin, the night that
the Sox lost to the Yankees 19-8.  Ignominious.  Everyone was
at the point of crying, yet again, as it looked like another year of
oh-so-familiar defeat for Boston.  But then they started to
win.  Unbelievably, they couldn’t seem to be killed.  On
Monday night, I finally gave up past 1 AM in the 13th inning, and heard
later that they won in the fourth.  On Tuesday, when it took 6
hours for them to win for the third time in a row, I was there for
almost the whole thing, except for the hour of the game that occurred
while I was in class.  Every pitch in the final two inning was
agony; the friends I was watching the game with paced the floor,
groaned painfully, and could barely look through their fingers to see
how each ball thrown had fared.  On Wednesday, we watched for what
was, in fact, hours, and again, the final two inning were an experiment
in masochism.  Brian, and my friend Mike, and a couple of other
New Englanders were just waiting for the Sox to screw it up again, as
they had so many times in the past.  Each bad pitch was met with
an exclamation like, “Oh, God, it’s starting.  They’re messing it
up.  Why is he in there?  We gotta take him out of the
game.  They’ve killed our hopes so many times, why is this
different.  Why did I even hope that it would happen this
year?”  Red Sox fans (Bostonians, even New Englanders) are not an
optimistic people.  I think that if you lived here for any length
of time, with the provinciality, the weather, and whatever else, the
sunny elements of any person’s personality would be quickly burnished

But then they did it. 
Silence.  Then screams of joy.  We had defeated the “Evil Empire” in the House
that Ruth Built, and we’d done what no other baseball team had ever done
before.  From 0-3 to 4-3, and the first time to the Series in 18 years.  We
poured out of the house where we were watching the game, and headed into Harvard
Square.  Passing through Harvard Yard, we saw the jubilation.  The John Harvard
statue dressed in Red Sox gear, the Harvard University band playing, Hundreds of
students bouncing up and down and yelling as loud as they could.  We passed
quickly into the square, and there, all traffic had been stopped.  Easily over a
thousand people thronged all over th square, covering the pedestrian zones, the
roads, the storefronts, basically any surface upon which one could stand.  The
band moved out and began to play even more loudly.  Cheers started: “Let’s go,
Red Sox!”, “Yankees Suck!”, “Here we go, Red Sox!”  We stayed for at least half
an hour, until about 1 AM, and the crowd never

We got to sleep for two days.  Then,
the series started, and all of Red Sox Nation went back to very late nights,
sitting on the edge of chairs, and waiting.  We drew blood from our knuckles as
we chewed upon them, and we kept waiting for them to mess it up.  Only on the
third night did people begin to think that it might happen.  Even on the fourth
night, most of Red Sox Nation kept waiting for a shoe to drop somewhere.  And
then it didn’t.  And New England exhaled after holding its breath for 86

The last three days have been a whirl of
Red Sox Madness.  People still haven’t slept.  The victory parade was today, and
over three million people lined up on the parade route today, standing in the
coolness and the drizzle for up to four hours to watch the team and the
oldtimers still alive from previous attempts at the title ride by in Duck Boats.
(There are tours that you can take of Boston in Duck Boats, amphibious personnel
carriers from military surplus that have been made into tour vehicles that drive
the streets and then take a quick spin in the Charles River.)  The parade wound
all through downtown, and then it took a couple of laps along the river basin,
staying close into the Boston and Cambridge

Crazy stuff has been happening as a result
of this.  One local couple had originally taken their wedding vows years ago,
promising to remain together “until death do you part or the Red Sox win the
series.”  They renewed their vows this week.  Grown men were moved to tears, as
they recalled that their fathers and grandfathers had waited for this event for
much of their lives.  The Boston Globe put out its edition on Thursday with the
largest headline I’ve ever seen (YES!!! in four-inch letters) and calling it the
“Victory edition.”  Sox retrospectives have been going on TV much of the latter
portion of the week.  Everywhere I go, I hear snatchets of people talking —
police officers, construction workers, Harvard profs, bank tellers, merchants,
homeless guys — talking about what many of them regard as perhaps the most
spectacular event of their lives.  Perhaps most surprisingly, Bostonians have
been remarkably cheerful on the streets, in trains, and in stores.  (This is
highly unusual, especially as we’re moving deeper into autumn.)  They’re not
even thinking about next season and what it means to no longer be the perpetual
losers of major league baseball (a role that seems left to the Cubs now. 
Incidentally, the Cubs are apparently SO cursed that even having ex-Cubs on your
team means that you will lose.  In both of the last two series, the team with
the most ex-Cubs lost — New York had 5, St. Louis 3, and Boston

This city is sports-crazy, but this last week
has been more than I can really describe adequately.

Posted in Day2Day on 30 October 2004 at 7:35 pm by Nate
20 October 2004

Bush’s Christianity, redux

This piece, by Ayelish McGarvey, perfectly explains why Bush’s faith proves so frustrating.

This is a huge mistake, because when judged by
his deeds, an entirely different picture emerges: Bush does not
demonstrate a life of faith by his actions, and neither Methodists,
evangelicals, nor fundamentalists can rightly call him brother. In
fact, the available evidence raises serious questions about whether
Bush is really a Christian at all.

Ironically for a man who once
famously named Jesus as his favorite political philosopher during a
campaign debate, it is remarkably difficult to pinpoint a single
instance wherein Christian teaching has won out over partisan politics
in the Bush White House. Though Bush easily weaves Christian language
and themes into his political communication, empty religious jargon is
no substitute for a bedrock faith. Even little children in Sunday
school know that Jesus taught his disciples to live according to his
commandments, not simply to talk about them a lot. In Bush’s case,
faith without works is not just dead faith — it’s evangelical agitprop….

Judging him on his record, George W. Bush’s
spiritual transformation seems to have consisted of little more than
staying on the wagon, with Jesus as a sort of talismanic Alcoholics
Anonymous counselor. Bush came to his faith through a small group
program created by Community Bible Study, which de-emphasizes sin and
resembles a sort of Jesus-centered therapy session.

But sin is crucial to Christianity.
To be born again, a seeker must painfully acknowledge his or her innate
sinfulness, and then turn away from it completely….

From what I know, McGarvey professes an
evangelical Christian faith, so he’s quite adequately positioned to
make a criticism of the president on thiese grounds.  Furthermore,

Just who will boldly hold the president
accountable to Scripture? Sycophantic religious conservatives are
heavily invested in politics; they dare not rock the boat. Religious
liberals are cast aside as partisan. And as Amy Sullivan noted recently
in The New Republic, Bush does not regularly attend church —
he doesn’t even have a pastor or fellow congregants to keep him on the
straight and narrow.

I’e wondered about this for years.  Bill Clinton, the anti-moral
exemplar of the Republican Party, at least went to church pretty
regularly, if not every week, then three of four weeks.

I’ve heard the argument from a variety of people, including some of the
members of the Red Sox watching party I’m at, have noted that it’s hard
for the President to go to church every Sunday, with all the security
requirements and such.  But one could certainly have a pastor in
on a regular basis.  And with the Bush family’s vaunted ties to
Billy Graham, it shouldn’t be hard to have your pick.

On a more serious note, however, it’s a fairly serious thing that Bush
makes so much of his faith but does not attend a regular service. 
One of the key commitments of Christianity is that the believer does
not individually engage with God and the world; the community is a key
aspect of the Christian experience.  Even Protestant individualism
still acknowledges the key role for the corporate body of believers;
without the Church, “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” (a line of the
creed that even evangelicals sunscibe to, if not in the same fashion as
the Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Anglicans), without the corporate
engagement with God, the believer cannot grow to his or her fullest
measure in the faith.

We’ve heard quite a bit of late on Bush not being able to admit his
mistakes, about him not taking advice outside the small coterie of is
“war council”, about his stubbornness.  And what we know about
George Bush’s religious conviction, as evidenced by his unwillingness
to engage with his fellow believers (sic)* in the hard process of
relating to God, demonstrates this further.  Bush does not think
he has any need to engage with other believers because I don’t think he
understands that God is greater than the flexible leanings of his own
conscience.  He doesn’t understand that “conscience” can be wrong
and that the corporate body exists to ensure that conscience does not
go off too far in the wrong direction.

Which I guess shouldn’t be surprising.  From what we know about
Bush’s politics, it’s not surprising to see that the purportedly deeper
beliefs of his life betray an amazing hubris — the very opposite of
what all faiths teach that true faith consists of.  Humility, not
hubris, lies at the core of Christianity, which indicates that George
W. Bush lies quite far from the heart, soul, and core of the faith he
so vociferously claims.

* A common trope in my evangelical youth was to tell people about their
faith, “You are sincere in what you believe, but you’re sincerely
wrong.”  I think GWB is sincere about what he thinks he believes,
but I wonder if it’s orthodox Christian faith.

Posted in Rayleejun on 20 October 2004 at 11:25 am by Nate

Red Sox Religion

A mix of Calvinism and paganism.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 20 October 2004 at 11:07 am by Nate
19 October 2004

George W. Bush’s “faith”?

Ron Suskind’s article in the Times on Sunday will likely set off some people — those who can’t stand seeing Bush’s faith at all questioned.

But since every idea and issue remotely touching on the facts of faith
have been fair political game this time around, perhaps more than
usual, it’s fair to ask, as Jeff Sharlet does, whether George Bush is
out first “New Age” president
.  (A heresy that I am sure will
offend crystal wavers and Bible thumpers alike, so I’m happy to bring
it up.)

surprising about Suskind’s summary of Bush’s “walk,” to borrow an
evangelical term, is how small a role Jesus Christ seems to play in it.
God gets a few cameos, but even he’s a supporting player. Front and
center, though, is faith.

Believing, it seems, is more important to the President than the
substance of his belief. Jesus Christ’s particular teachings — well,
those are good, too. But what really matters is that if you believe you
can do something, you can.

What Suskind misses, and what Bush’s more orthodox Christian
supporters seem to dodge, is that this is not Christian doctrine by any
definition. It is, in fact, a key element of the broad, heterodox
movement known as New Age religion.

A common aspect of many New Age schools of thought (though not all) is a gentle disdain for perceived reality.

Posted in Politicks on 19 October 2004 at 11:14 am by Nate
18 October 2004

Why your news sucks…

Jon Stewart takes on Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala:

STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a
responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk…

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I’m not going to be your monkey.


BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.

CARLSON: I can tell you love it.

STEWART: It’s so — oh, it’s so painful to watch.


STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great
opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their
marketing and strategy.

CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?

STEWART: Yes, it’s someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore.

Posted in Politicks on 18 October 2004 at 5:14 pm by Nate

Windsor Report released

Just about three hours ago.  I haven’t read it yet, but you can read along with me here.

Once I’ve read more, I’ll have more to say.

Posted in Rayleejun on 18 October 2004 at 10:58 am by Nate
15 October 2004

National Book Award surprise finalist

Last Wednesday, finalists were announced for the National Book Awards, and
there’s a bit of brouhaha over the fiction finalists, because they are
all very small, unknown novels.
{pictureRef (, align:”right”)}

But the Tom Clancy of the nonfiction set, the 9/11 Commission Report,
got a nomination for at non-fiction award.  The first eleven (of
thirteen) chapters are compelling reading.  They provide,
alternating between action in the United States by intelliegence
communites and among the terrorist plotters, an overview of the whole
situation leading up to September 11, 2001.  Not only does the
report have an organization that lends itself well to narrative, but
the style and tone of the report comes across as very unified, as if
written by a single author (as I suspect for this reason that it was),
rather than the joint product of ten or twelve people.

The last two chapters are somewhat disappointing.  The solution to
the ideological crisis of Islamism requires bureacratic
re-organization.  But the failure wasn’t just one of
intelligence.  When George Kennan wrote the Long Telegram in 1947,
outlining the structure of a US foreign policy to oppose Soviet
hegemony, he didn’t propose a bureacratic change, a tactic; he posed a
strategic plan, that of “containment.”  The “solution” chapters of
the 9/11 report strike as missing just that element, a comprehensive
strategy.  I think the bureacratic reorganization provides a
fairly good tactic, and the report’s suggestions should be
implemented.  But it lacks an overall vision of what needs to be
done, and thus doesn’t go far enough.

Posted in Books on 15 October 2004 at 10:23 am by Nate
14 October 2004

Citizenry and the second debate

After I watched the second debate the other night at Mather House, I
was speaking to friend “Mark” on the West Coast.  We went on, as
we are wont to do, about the ways in which each guy either answered or
did not answer the question(s) well.  In most cases, we agreed
that Kerry and Bush could have both had better responses in a number of
situations.  I think we know what to expect from each of them, and
so there were no surprises there.

The audience members, however, impressed me very much. They asked hard questions about matters of serious import. They asked open-ended questions
By their questions, the audience seemed to be well-educated and
concerned about the matters at hand.  (In the first debate, the
President did not seem to be at least the first and possibly the
second.)  They evidenced curiosity about who these two guys
are.  They took their duty as citizen-governors seriously. 
They took ownership of the political system.  And they realized
that the people and government are not oppositional to one another —
they are one and the same.  When people ask me if and when I am
proud to be an American, it’s moments like the citizen questions in the
second debate that make me thin that there’s hope for the republic.

It’s hard to reconcile the above with the stories we see after every
debate about voters who still can’t make up their minds.  Neither
of these guys are perfect — neither of them will match every policy
preference position that each person has.  You get some of what
you want and some of what you don’t in each of them.  But the
contrasts seem pretty clear by this point, and these are two different
men with two different agendas for the nation.  How can we remain

Posted in Politicks on 14 October 2004 at 3:11 pm by Nate