We assume that our audience is a discerning and sophisticated one, and that you don't always need us to provide talking points or prompts regarding a point of interest. Therefore, since I don't have the time to explore these issues to the extent I would like, I recommend them to you for further edification and discussion:
From last year (H/T NRO), Fr. Edward Oakes provided this fascinating discussion of the relationship (if that is the right word) between faith and doubt. "Are faith and doubt inherently incompatible, or are they necessary components in a single act of trust in God? Are they inevitably paired, like day and night; or is doubt a temptation that indicates, at best, a lack of vigor in the act of faith? If one doubts, is one already on the road toward unbelief?" He assembles, for the (apparently) opposing viewpoints, none other than John Henry Newman and Joseph Ratzinger. Pay particular attention to the discussion of Mother Teresa and her struggle with the darkness of faith. Why did she feel this overwhelming state of abandonment? Was she being called, ala St. John of the Cross, to a greater union with Christ? In fact, suggested one of her spiritual directors, she had already achieved that union: "only it was union with Christ’s own darkness on the cross." We often talk about our willingness to follow Christ wherever He leads us, but how many of us are willing to go there? Read more to find out where "there" is.
And from this very month's issue of First Things, there's a review of Elvin Lim's book The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush. As John McWhorter, the revierer, points out, this is not an excuse for another trashing of W's intellect; rather, it is an exploration of the "dumbing down" of presidential rhetoric through the years. Lim puts much of the blame on presidential speechwriters, specifically the phenomenon of a speechwriter who is hired only to write words without having any part in the formation of the policy about which he writes. McWhorter agrees with this but goes farther, exploring the our contemporary culture of sound bites and applause lines and musing on the general growth of anti-intellectualism and decline of rhetoric across the (American) board. As a writer myself, I must admit that this bears some weight. One seldom gets the chance to verbally explore any issue with any depth whatsoever, even in a conversation around the water cooler, without being interrupted or being forced to try to "score points" rather than truly investigating the subject. This is something that is increasingly best left to the written word. I freely allow as to how with the written word one often has to struggle with the need of injecting a human emotion into a static, even mute, word (hence the advent of the emoticon to take the edge off the dullness of a potentially misconstrued phrase), and nobody is suggesting that emails should replace conversation altogether (although, regretfully, text messaging may be doing just that, in addition to turning us into functional illiterates). Nevertheless, a writer would be a fool if he suggested that there wasn't a power to the written word that couldn't be found elsewhere, wouldn't he? That is, if you've been able to stay with me this far. :)
Of course, as we discussed yesterday, Lin may have changed his mind had he known of the television prowess of FDR. . .