10) The absurdity of the news is a recurrent theme here, and the past six months has offered no respite from the onslaught of ridiculous news stories. The election stands out as a year long tribute to this insanity, from which numerous quotes might be drawn. Yet, it was this understated, now forgotten story of a couple suing over a baseball injury:
A New Jersey woman who was struck in the face with a baseball at a Little League game is suing the young catcher who threw it.
Elizabeth Lloyd is seeking more than $150,000 in damages to cover medical costs...Catcher Matthew Migliaccio was 11 years old at the time and was warming up a pitcher.
9) Not all sports news was so amusing or so obscure. Since the last top ten, the drama at Penn State has continued to unfold in ways that I continue to find indefensible. The NCAA handed down what were supposed to be program destroying sanctions (never mind that the Nittany Lions have marched proudly on to have a respectable season), but the Paterno family continues in the level-headed tradition of its now deceased patriarch:
The point of due process is to protect against this sort of reflexive action. Joe Paterno was never interviewed by the University or the Freeh Group. His counsel has not been able to interview key witnesses as they are represented by counsel related to ongoing litigation. We have had no access to the records reviewed by the Freeh group. The NCAA never contacted our family or our legal counsel. And the fact that several parties have pending trials that could produce evidence and testimony relevant to this matter has been totally discounted.
Unfortunately all of these facts have been ignored by the NCAA, the Freeh Group and the University.
8) Many of the quotes shared here relate to issues of war and peace, indicating my distinct preference for the latter. To an already extensive catalog, I was able to recently add the collective wisdom of several Nobel laureates protesting, of all things, a reality show that trained celebrities in the art of war:
Real war is down in the dirt deadly...Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public.
7) Historians, as a rule, affect me less profoundly than do theologians, philosophers, and ethicists. Eugene Genovese is an astounding exception to this rule. Much to my dismay, he died not so long ago, but he has left us with a tremendous body of work that will continue to live on and continue to stimulate. This quote was offered as a sample as we said goodbye to Gene Genovese:
Southern conservatism has always traced the evils of the modern world to the ascendency of the profit motive and material acquisitiveness...to an idolatrous cult of economic growth and scientific and technological progress; and to the destructive exploitation of nature. Thus, down to our day, southern conservatives have opposed finance capitalism and have regarded socialism as the logical outcome of the capitalist centralization of economic and state power...
What goes largely unnoticed is that, on much of the American Right, the conservative critique of modernity has largely given way to a free-market liberalism the ideal of which shares much with the radical Left’s version of egalitarianism.
6) Germany, it was discovered recently, could benefit from a greater sensitivity to history. Ignoring the obvious perception it would create, a German judge effectively outlawed religious circumcision. As an advocate for the responsibility of parents to make medical (and religious) decisions on behalf of children, I was delighted when the American Academy of Pediatrics weighed in on the issue:
"It's not a verdict from on high," said policy co-author Dr. Andrew Freedman. "There's not a one-size-fits-all-answer." But from a medical standpoint, circumcision's benefits in reducing risk of disease outweigh its small risks, said Freedman, a pediatric urologist in Los Angeles..."The benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it."
5) Meanwhile, there was real religious strife going on in the world:
We will not encourage our people to carry arms against anybody whatsoever the situation may be. For those that are behind Boko Haram, you come to us with AK47, bombs, charms and other dangerous weapons, but we come to you in the name of God.
I want to assure Christians in Nigeria that Christ has always been with his people. He will never give victory to those persecuting Christians and the Church. Whoever is trying to exterminate Christians and Christianity from Nigeria is neither pleasing God nor his people.
4) Having prophetically (and oh so modestly) argued that the solution to the education crisis in America was to pay teachers less, the atavistic Chicago teachers went on strike and proved themselves better fear-mongers than educators, tragically unaware of their own disastrous behavior:
"The mayor and his hedge fund allies are going to replace our democratically controlled public schools with privately run charter schools. This will have disastrous results," union president Karen Lewis wrote in an opinion column in the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.
3) In the run up to the election, we explored the nature of the news and freedom of the press, including this insight from a letter sent to George Washington:
Judicious and well-timed publications have great efficacy in ripening the judgment of men in this quarter of the Continent.
2) Even as my academic focus, and consequently my focus here, shifts from the Orthodox Church to indigenous American Christianity, I can never forget my first academic love. Here is a teaser for a particularly amusing bit of satire that I was directed to:
Hipster Christians, I'm going to help you out. I see you are grasping at something, trying to find the ironic Church of your dreams, where men can grow beards of foolish proportions and women can dress like their grannies' grannies, a place where scarves are worn in every unfashionable fashion imaginable, a place where people do shots and eat hummus at community gatherings, enjoy rooms filled with a fog of incense and prefer to read books that pre-date industrialisation.
I would like to direct your attention to "The Orthodox Church."
1) But, of course, the best news recently...the best news always...was cow news:
Would protection against the deadly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) make you willing to give up your vegan lifestyle? New research from Australia’s Melbourne University suggests that a type of treated cow’s milk could provide the world’s first HIV vaccine.
And now, let us rush headlong together into many more hours wasted merrily in reflection and sardonic commentary.