Promoting a plan of his own, Gov. Jim Hodges declared, "We want to send a signal to the nation, and to our children, that South Carolinians can come together to do the right thing." What thing does he want them to do?
Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's Question (No. 384) "Prob. Ability"
"What used to be a problem for Wyoming and Montana is now a problem for everybody," says the Rev. James G. Wilson, an Episcopal church official. What's the problem?
"Stray livestock wandering through the potluck suppers."—Merrill Markoe (Lynn Rosetta had a similar answer.)
"Turquoise jewelry."—Colleen Werthmann
"Those damn bears from Yellowstone. Told you we should have shot them while we had the chance."—Evan Cornog
"That's easy. When was the last time any of us got all the barbed wire we'd ordered?"—Joan Bernecky
"Rex Reed's crime wave has gone national: Lock up your valuables!"—Douglas Wolk (similarly, Tim Carvell and Mark Craven)
Click for more answers.
The Reader's Digest used to run a feature called "Life in These United States"—not "the" United States; "these"—suggesting an odd fondness for federalism and the bewildering conviction that a state—say Wyoming or Montana—is not merely a political demarcation, but is an actual place with a real cultural identity—language, literature, food, music, forms of anti-Semitism. Of course the Digest also ran (runs?) "Humor in Uniform" (Or was that in the magazine the German general staff put out in 1943 to cheer up the boys on the Russian front?), "It Pays To Increase Your Word Power," and "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met," as well as publishing thousands of condensed books. It's so quaintly mockable, the Reader's Digest—if Tina Brown were still in the magazine business, we could snipe at her by imagining how she'd make it over—but is it so different than what passes for a magazine on the Web? Here too you find short, politically goofy articles and a yen for global domination. The big difference: The Reader's Digest had no nude photographs of celebrities and no advertising. But maybe a few full-page pictures of Harriet Nelson stripped to the waist and touting a Hotpoint refrigerator-freezer, and the Digest would still be in business. Assuming it's not. Which it is. And selling darn well in many of these United States. Just not in the good ones.
Clerical Error Answer
The problem is priestlessness.
All denominations have long found it hard to attract clergy to rural areas, and now the staffing shortages are spreading to attractive parts of the country. In the Catholic church, parish priests declined by 12 percent between 1992 and 1997. About 200 out of 895 Reform Jewish congregations are under-rabbied.
In part, the robust economy is to blame (or to praise, depending on your point of view). "We have done too good a job educating our children and giving them banking, legal, business and medical opportunities," says Rabbi Steven Dworken of the Rabbinical Council of America, a modern Orthodox organization (apparently devoted to perpetuating stereotypes and yet inexplicably omitting the word "diamonds"). "Years ago, many fellows became rabbis because they had no other choices."
In part, the reactionary politics of some churches is to blame (or to praise, depending on … no, wait, that can't be right). "People who might once have gone into the clergy as an avenue toward social change now see it as confining rather than liberating," says Peter Awn, a professor of religion at Columbia University.
Facing up to a management problem that has hindered other businesses, Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman of Hebrew Union College, the Reform Jewish seminary, says, "Unless we somehow increase the number of those choosing religious professional life, ultimately this will be a disaster for organized religious life."
(Curiously, we have no such problem at my new enterprise, Jew.com. Two reasons. 1. We give equity to all ordained employees. 2. We don't actually exist.—Ed.)
Mixed Messages Extra
The following blurbs and comments from Sunday's New York Times seem like scathing denunciations, but each is—inexplicably—meant to praise a piece of work. Can you identify the work to which each refers?
The Mixed Message:
- Think of it as ballroom dancing's answer to Riverdance
- You will not soon forget Hanging Up
- Chevy Chase at his best
- Where Smiles Never End
- If Kerouac had been a couch potato, this is the kind of book he might have written
- By Christopher Buckley
The Object of Its Putative Affection:
- The Boston Globe's overly sarcastic description of Burn the Floor, a dance show at Radio City.
- Larry King's thuggish threat about a movie based on the Ephron sisters' self-satisfaction.
- Some KBWB-TV reporter's snide crack about Snow Day. (You know: It's not like Chase is deliberately bad. He can't help it.)
- Hellish slogan for relentlessly cheerful Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.
- Chilling ad for a Mariah Carey performance.
- Apparently an attempt to discourage anyone from picking up Miss Wyoming, a novel by Douglas Coupland.
- An unkind thing to say about Little Green Men, a novel by Christopher Buckley.
Extra Credit Follow-Up Extra
Q: Mel Torme, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae—what's the connection?
A: Rex Reed said he had "a senior moment."—Daniel Radosh
Yeah, senior in high school.—Gina Duclayan
Participants are invited to join us for the News Quiz second anniversary party, Monday, Feb. 28, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in the prestigious back room of Cucina Della Fontana, Bleecker and Charles streets, New York.
As is customary, this event is BYOE, bring your own everything—food, drink, health insurance. (Not so much bring as "buy.")