A Maze in Grace

A Maze in Grace

A Maze in Grace

Recent posts from our readers forum.
Jan. 6 2000 3:30 AM

A Maze in Grace

Subject: "New Age" Isn't So New

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From: Max

Date: Tue Jan 4

Another Fraygrant wrote:

There is a very beautiful cathedral in France--I believe in Chartres--that has a huge labyrinth on the floor. It was covered until recently when a new, more liberal Bishop took over the area. It was interesting to see something "New Agey" in such an old institution.

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I have seen these old mazes on church floors and they are beautiful. Too bad Culturebox used the words "New Age" in the column. If she had simply said "spirituality" then everyone would be much calmer in their criticism.

It seems to me that this maze idea is simply a focusing device, like a rosary or lighting a candle, which symbolizes something significant to us. It's just a "thing" we use to help us feel closer to God. Why all the hub-bub?

Personally I feel closer to God when I'm gardening and tending "His" planet. Is that wrong, too?

(To reply, click here.)

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Subject: Pundit Central vs. Bob Novak

From: Brian

Date: Mon Jan 3

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Why is Robert Novak's indisputably accurate assessment on the effects of centralized government in the 20th century labeled "self-parody"? How can the Pundit Central hack imply that centralized government has been a huge net plus when millions have died directly at its hands, and when common freedoms and civic involvement have been declining in liberal democracies as a direct result of this conglomeration of power? Sounds like the usual liberal tactic of attempting (desperately) to deride what you can't really disprove.

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Subject: Re: Pundit Central vs. Bob Novak

From: Michael Brus

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Date: Tue Jan 4

Obviously totalitarian governments, both right and left, have killed millions this century. And surely government in the United States today is too large, or at least inefficient. (Jonathan Rauch's new book Government's End documents this quite well.)

But Novak's absurdity lies in linking totalitarian programs of extermination to onerous regulations in contemporary Europe and the United States. Surely there is a qualitative difference between a police state and a sclerotic republic. (Do you really think it's just a slippery slope from Sweden to North Korea?)

Remember, Shields asked him to name the "greatest catastrophes of the 20th century." Novak responded with a conservative buzzword ("big government"), and tried to use real catastrophe to further his own agenda.

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[Michael Brus writes "Pundit Central" and is Slate's Fraymaster.]

Subject: The Dog Who Ate Peanuts

From: Steve Miller

Date: Thu Dec 30

Another Fraygrant wrote:

Mark Alan Stamaty is to be forgiven for rejecting Jean Shepherd's critique that Snoopy ruined Peanuts--as a cartoonist, Stamaty has been influenced on a much deeper level by Schulz than the average reader. I found his paean to the strip very moving.

Indeed, Christopher Caldwell, in his brilliant piece in last week's N.Y. Press, contends that it was Schulz's "calamitous artistic misjudgment" that allowed Snoopy and cuteness to overwhelm the "left-field" magic that characterized the early strip. I think that, once the billion-dollar merchandizing juggernaut was well underway, Schulz got fat and happy. Snoopy and Woodstock--unlike Charlie Brown and Lucy--represent the relatively banal inner life of a successful middle-age man. As Schulz's own angst disappeared, his strip's meaningfulness did too.

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Subject: Fish's Frivilous Pen

From: Terry Clark

Date: Mon Jan 3

Stanley Fish is a fun writer, but don't take him too seriously. He's the Robin Williams of literature--an inspired gabber who couldn't turn off his inspirations to save his life. If he wanted to, Fish could talk biscuits and gravy into a thrilling subject we would all take sides on. Professor Fish is simply (!) a good talker who writes well. That's his gift. He's like the lawyer in Walden, who amazed the Indian because while he worked hard at making baskets and blankets, and yet remained poor, "the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed." Fish is that lawyer, and most of the rest of us are the Indian.

Now, words can have powerful effects on us Indians--the more so if you have a serious talker and a serious subject. Then again, words aren't everything (as, Fish cheekily delights in pointing out).

Sometimes, when I read Fish (his frightening "Mission Impossible" essay, for example), I get swept up by his great gift, and am ready to move the family to the woods to avoid the end of the world. But then I smell the Fish. Ah, Stan! It's just you and your words again!

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Subject: Hollywood's Opening-Night Strategy

From: David Snow

Date: Wed Dec 29

I just happened to have finished Monster: Living Off the Big Screen by John Gregory Dunne when I read this article. The author is a screenwriter. He makes the following point:

The reason that opening weekend grosses are so important is that the distributing studio bases the advertising budget on the opening weekend grosses. Thus a feature that opens poorly doesn't get advertised as much as one that does well. It's the criterion they use to keep themselves from throwing money at something that is likely to fail. Although word of mouth sometimes works, for a feature to do well in the long run it almost always needs advertising. Thus a poor opening gross is a self-fulfilling prediction of failure.

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