With the retirement of Andrew Sullivan, I think it’s worth thinking a little about why his blog was so successful. One reason was he “read the whole internet.” He began this process by asking for 5 links a day.
So, to honor the recently retired pioneer of the internet, every now and again I’ll comment on five links.
1. Five Links
Reacting instantly to five links about hot topics of the day is no small thing. You can put your foot in it easily, or even contribute to more noise instead of expanding positive and useful discourse.
Between Stephen Colbert, Andrew Sullivan, and now Jon Stewart, we’re losing some heavy hitters in the cross section of politics and popular culture. I do not think it’s a coincidence that they all gained their prominence during the Bush Administration. They were the folk pointing out, with both poignancy and aplomb, that the emperor had no clothing. And you can ride on that for… apparently a little over 6 years, but in the Obama years there isn’t the same oxygen for their kind of flame. I mean, obviously there are still a lot of loyal fans, but skewering the opposition isn’t the same as poking the crown while it’s atop the king’s head.
Ross Douthat sees Obama as within the tradition of Niebuhr in his “Christians do violence too,” moment at the prayer breakfast. However, Ross then goes on and does a “I knew Niebuhr, and you my friend are no Reinhold Niebuhr.” He sees Obama’s critique as distinct from a Niebuhrian critique because:
a. Obama isn’t a theologian or historian, so his comments were creating a straw-man instead of a nuanced and thought through expression of reality
b. The Muslim world doesn’t care what Obama says
c. Obama is using Niebuhr to score political points.
Frum noticed that Jeb Bush quoted Plinty the Elder when talking about oil policy. The problem is Plinty didn’t read Adam Smith, who might be a better guide for modern economics, per Frum.
Clint, over at Lutheran Confessions, sees a potentially insidious side to “Progressive Christianity," a form of the Faith that focuses on the questions instead of the answers—as an antidote to more fundamentalists forms of Christianity that focuses on answers without considering the questions of the day; the danger is "Progressive Christianity" might make itself out to be the end goal of the Faith—instead of seeing itself as yet another evolution, another anti-thesis, in a Hegelian reading of Christian history.