Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Bishop and the Meth-head

So here's a connection:

Ted Haggard, schadenfreude case of the day, has apparently been found guilty by his church of committing "sexually immoral conduct." Not that this was surprising: the only question was how quickly the hammer would fall. (Pretty damn quick, I'd say.) Almost as rapidly, evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll's response to the drama, in the form of "practical suggestions for fellow Christian leaders," has been the subject of considerable commentary on the liberal blogs. (I heard about it through DK (not me!) at Talking Points Memo, who pointed toward David Goldstein's excellent commentary the Huffington Post; naturally, Dan Savage has also commented). Still, the kicker paragraph in Driscoll's post is worth repeating:
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.
I forget what the Song of Songs says precisely about methamphetamine but I'll look it u . . . . Hey, wait a minute. Did Driscoll really write "lean over the plate and take one for the team"?

Yes, he did.

Meanwhile, let's not blame poor Gayle Haggard for this. For one thing, judging from the publicity shot for her book A Life Embraced: A Hopeful Guide for the Pastor's Wife, she's not let herself go at all. In an interview promoting the book, she gives a clue as to where the responsibility ultimately lies:
God met me, spoke to me, and helped me as I sought Him. I learned to lean on Him and He so satisfied me that I felt increasingly free to love my husband and to participate with him in ministry and the life and calling God has given to us.
Meanwhile -- and here's the connection that's not a connection -- in my own denomination, a woman has been installed as Presiding Bishop.

Let's say Ted Haggard comes out as a gay man but wants to continue as a Christian minister. (I think that, whatever his future career, he's not making anybody happy, including his soon-to-be-ex wife, as a closet case.) There are places for him to go. Maybe he should try working with Christians who are more accepting of human difference.

What's blogging for?

Blogs are interesting not really for what they say but for how they connect. Some blogs are purely informational; I go to Eschaton and to Daily Kos primarily for their rapid feed of new political developments. (Some kossacks, such as DarkSyde, Jerome a Paris, and bonddad, are quite insightful; some, like Pastor Dan, are moving; and some, like Bob Johnson, are terrifically funny. But I encounter these writers as a result of keeping up, not because I keep up with them particularly.) On the right-wing blogosphere, this can lead to a massive echo-chamber effect (or maybe that's just Malkin's big empty head) or, as Truman Capote would have said about Glenn Reynolds, "that's not blogging, that's teletyping."

I go to Ron Silliman and The Rude Pundit for range of reading and for their ability to make connections across diverse terrains. If paralepsis is to have any value, I hope it's of this type.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Power-Pointing the War

So the New York Times publishes an article about how military officials recognize that Iraq is a major clusterfuck, and it includes the following image:

Reactions have been predictable.
  • Over at Daily Kos, georgia10 notes that, along with the National Intelligence Estimate concluding that the Iraq war has exacerbated the terrorist threat, this picture shows "that the administration is well aware that Iraq is a 'failed state, that 'ethnic cleaning' is taking place, and that a stay-the-course policy has failed to stop the stop the steady march towards chaos."
  • Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin (of course) froths at the mouth about the "blabbermouths" at the Times who betrayed their country by publishing classified material. Because as we all know, terrorists love them some PowerPoint.
Has anybody pointed out how poorly designed this slide is? It's a validation of all that Edward Tufte has been saying about PowerPoint's ruinous effects. Note the strange 'central command' running down the left-hand side; the suspiciously unhelpful color-coded shape symbols; the crowding of information in fonts of nearly the same size; the general ugliness of design; the tagline at the bottom (beginning "Urban areas"), formatted with a bizarre open-ended red border; the inconsistency of scale in the figure (a week at one point, "pre-Samarra" at another); the seemingly arbitary arrangement of information; and the tendency to view the world through bullet points.

Returning to georgia10 at Daily Kos, she seems to love this figure, even hauling out that old chestnut "a picture is worth a thousand words." She's mainly excited because the figure is bad for Republicans, but a well-designed figure would have been a whole lot worse.

PowerPoint, recall, helped get us into this mess (thanks loads, Colin Powell). But even when it conveys important information, it seems PowerPoint can't help but suck.