Pontiff-icating

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 4 2005 6:19 PM

Pontiff-icating

Bloggers continue to examine the legacy of Pope John Paul II. They also puzzle over a bizarre development planned off the coast of Dubai and react to Arianna Huffington's plan to recruit the cognoscenti to blog on her new site.

Pontiff-icating: Pope John Paul II died Saturday after a 27–year tenure leading the Roman Catholic Church. Over the weekend, Catholics and non-Catholics alike mourned the loss of the pope and praised the man, "his message of peace, his battle against communism in Eastern Europe and his efforts to build bridges between religions."

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Bloggers, too, have begun to weigh the pontiff's legacy, and Brahmin blogger Glenn Reynolds rounds up a collection of positive assessments. John Paul II was "was one of the great figures of our age," declares Johnathan Pearce at analytic group blog Samizdata. "However controversial a figure he may have been for his views on issues like abortion, birth control and capitalism, the late Pope was, in my eyes, a hero for playing a part in giving people in Eastern Europe the confidence to bring the Soviet Empire down." Law professor and radio host Hugh Hewitt agrees, writing that, along with "Reagan and Solzhenitsyn, John Paul II represents the three forces of opposition to communism that shattered the evil empire, the Soviet Union."

"One other thing that is worth mentioning," notes liberal policy buff Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, "is that before John Paul II, the Pope was a much more, well … parochial figure than he has been in the decades since. The Pope didn't travel around the world. He was always an Italian. And he was far less involved in the ecumenical work that played such a role in John Paul's pontificate."

At culture blog Body and Soul, Jeanne is put off by the "bizarre hagiography" of the coverage. Versatile literary blogger Robert Jubb has a more extreme response. At Consider Phlebas, he quotes liberally from an essay, by scholar Terry Eagleton in the London Review of Books, to suggest that the pope was authoritarian, reactionary, and unwilling to abide any criticism.

Bizarro world, Dubai: Tech digest Boing Boing reports that a "developer near Dubai is building a supervillain lair straight out of the funnybooks -- a collection of private islands arranged to look like a map of the world, with African game preserves, luxury hotels, McMansions, condos, etc etc etc." The remarkable home page is here.

"Got $6.8M for a private island?" asks Michael at Hainsworth. Mathew Ingram of the Globe and Mail thinks the construction isn't a business endeavor so much as a megalomaniacal show of power for Dubai's superrich. Diarist thirteen pixels is spooked. "Is anyone else terrified about what these people are doing?"

Dismissed in a huff: Author and pundit Arianna Huffington is planning to launch "an online publishing venture"—a culture and political magazine whose defining feature would be a group blog including contributions from "the culture and media elite." According to Business 2.0, the list of possible contributors includes "Sen. Jon Corzine, Larry David, Barry Diller, Tom Freston, David Geffen, Vernon Jordan, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Harry Evans and his wife, Tina Brown."

"Celebrity-suckling gadfly and Bill Maher Thursday hump Arianna Huffington to launch political web site," writes hard-to-please Jeff Goldstein at protein wisdom. At NIF, Virginia-based TJ thinks the move shows Huffington has "more dollars than sense." At first, the news turned off law professor Ann Althouse, as well. "But then I noticed Larry David was on the list, and I was interested. Is he really going to blog?" she asks excitedly. "I mean really blog?"

Have a question, comment, or suggestion for Today's Blogs? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com.

David Wallace-Wells is a writer living in New York.

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