Karl Barth said that Christians ought to live with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal provides wonderful grist for the latter.
First is the editorial page homage to Irving Kristol, the “man who put ‘neo’ into conservatism. The lead editorial notes that Kristol’s defining characteristic was his prescience, which is not the ability to predict the future as much rather “seeing the direction in which the future is heading”.
The facing page contains a fascinating collection of Irving Kristol quotes from his 25 years of contributions to the Wall Street Journal itself. Rupert, don’t mess with the Zohan. The first one calls out the emptiness of the politics of emotion: ” ‘All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,’ wrote Oscar Wilde, and I would like to suggest that the same can be said for bad politics . . . It has been more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves.”
The next one anticipates both the recent credit collapse and the energy of the Tea Party Movement: “But there is little question that the ideological atmosphere has changed, and in a direction that can be fairly called conservative . . . Expectations that outdistance reality by too much create unstable people and unstable societies. A politics which constantly incites such expectations is a politics of disorder, and ultimately of self-destruction.”
The last one delivers a broadside to the mirage of security through socialism: “The world has yet to see a successful version of . . . an egalitarian society in which the state ensures that the fruits of economic growth are universally and equally shared. The trouble with this idea . . . is that it does not produce those fruits in the first place. . . The state cannot and should not be a risk-taking institution, since it is politically impossible for any state to cope with the inevitable bankruptcies associated with economic risk taking.” AIG, BOA, GM … anyone?
A second interesting section of today’s paper are the letter to the editors about last week’s offerings on evolution and theology from Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong. Regarding the latter, Ravi Zacharias puts it well: “Asking Karen Armstrong to debate Richard Dawkins on God is the political equivalent of asking Hugo Chavez to provide counterpoint to Osama Bin Ladin.” Regarding the former (Richard Dawkins), leave it to Joseph Furman to break it down succinctly: “I had only two semesters of college physics, so I must have missed the part where Mr. Dawkin’s much vaunted laws of physics began permitting man to love, laugh, and cry.”
Finally there is Mary Tomkins Lewis’s meditation on both “The Power, and Art, of Painting” and the fleeting nature of life itself as embodied in Velasquez’s “Las Meninas” (pictured above).