Wednesday, March 19, 2008

some local coverage on the Airbus/Boeing/DOD battle

More coverage (a la local reaction to) on the subject of the big tanker deal that Boeing is disputing. The gist of the dispute is that the bigger plane creates untold infrastructure costs at taxpayer expense for a plane that has characteristics that were never initially part of the deal As it were, Boeing thought the Air Force was asking for a sturdy pickup truck and believes it got duped when the Air Force changed its mind half way through and decided, "Nah, I want a MONSTER truck.

So the case could be described as one where Boeing is protesting on the basis of the parking spaces that have to be modified to even fit the monster truck.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crazy for God, media postscripts

Now this puzzles me because in the Huffington post Frank says

We Republican agitators of the mid 1970s to the late 1980s were genuinely anti-American in the same spirit that later Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (both followers of my father) were anti-American when they said God had removed his blessing from America on 9/11, because America accepted gays. Falwell and Robertson recanted but we never did.

In his book, on page 299 of Crazy for GodFrank writes:

Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, and others would later use their power in ways that would have made my father throw up. Dad could hardly have imagined how they would have help facilitate the instantly corrupted power-crazy new generation of evangelical public figures like Ralph Reed, who took money from teh casino industry while allegedly playing both sides against the middle in events related to the Abramoff Washington lobbyist scandal.

Later on Frank describes his dad as seeming very uncomfortable around the likes of Robertson and in other parts of the book goes so far as to describe how his dad thought the current leaders of the religious right were "not like us" or "not our kind of people".

So if Frank goes so far as to say his father virtually thought these people were idiots or not of the same spirit in his book, what's with the description of Falwell and Robertson as followers of his late father?

Now it may just be me but it seems like Frank is trying to have it both ways. He's trying to rehabilitate his father in Crazy for God as someone who would have been appalled at how the religious right handles things but in Huffington's forum seems to be writing as though the people that he himself recounts his father as thinking were weird at best were followers.

Then again, Frank doesn't have a history of really writing books that rely on rational argument and he particularly has no history of handling anything in terms of nuanced analysis. Not too difficult to see why some people thinks Frank is a bit off. It's not what he writes in any individual setting that makes it seem odd how extreme he gets, it's more the cumulative effect of his output.

Frank believes that writing means he can be honest. But I am afraid I have to ask how honest it is to present his dad in such different lights to different audiences based on what group his is denouncing at any given publishing date. There's not even a mention in the Huffington post entry that Frank believes his father would not have approved of how the religious right handles things now. Of course Frank's main point is that when he and his father denounced America they were regarded as heroes while liberals or putative liberals who denounce America are regarded as traitors.

Trouble is, this is not that new. It's not even that special. Liberals have been talking about how Reaganism destroyed America and took America away from real Americans. Frank is still part of the problem and not the solution, or perhaps it would be more realistic to say there is no solution for the kind of problem Frank's polemic is included within. I stand by my observation that Jesus was crucified by a bipartisan committee. I was prepared to give a fairly generous assessment of Frank comparing his new book to his old book but his other writings have reminded me that he's still a hot head and can be pretty condescending to people he doesn't like, and he can be awfully selective about how he presents a case. Well, it's not like we didn't know this about him all the way back in Addicted to Mediocrity so I guess it's not so much a surprise as an unpleasant confirmation that the character traits that make him frustrating obviously have stuck around. I suppose that would be true of anyone, though, wouldn't it?

Perhaps what Frank should argue is that the hypocrisy in anti-government agitation is really when the political party making the complaint goes from feeling at a loss for power to having power. What Frank should argue is not about Jeremiah Wright but that if people consistenly held to the idea that people have the right to overthrow unust government that we have to realize the real risk involved, that the "right" to overthrow the government that does not deliver what we think God requires of us goes both ways, both left and right.

But neither party complains about the abuse or lack of separation of powers while their party has dominance, which is one of the more serious things to consider. Frank would have a better argument for his position if he made this appeal. The Republicans who endorsed calls for deposing unjust government twenty years ago have to recognize that double edged sword they want to wield. Frank's rhetoric goes both too far and not nearly far enough.

Crazy for God, the end of the journey

I finished it this week and overall am glad I read it. I think that what most Protestant critics of the book seem to overlook is that Frank cheerfully admits he remained an asshole for years after he converted to Orthodoxy (and obviously some people must think he still IS one to go by some of the net reactions I have read and heard about).

So, what do I think (as if you care!)? A solid read. Sloppier than Frank's other book that I read (Addicted to Mediocrity) but it's the kind of sloppiness that is forgivable because I feel like he actually wrote this book. Addicted to Mediocrity had a sort of anonymous ghost-written aspect to its literary style that suggested too much of a committee based sense of outrage, which is in some sense what Frank feels has been endemic to evangelical Protestantism.

I DO wonder if Frank may be emblematic of the adult evangelical convert in the very narrow sense that he feels that evangelicalism was full of bullshit. Yet he introduces a huge caveat near the end of the book that he's not angry with all of evangelicalism past, but with what it has become in the present, a happening he takes some blame for. More blame than perhaps he deserves but the conscious is a strange thing in terms of what it condemns and excuses within us.

And having grown up reading Francis Schaeffer books or J. I. Packer books and other evangelical authors I would say I agree with Frank. The problem with evangelicalism is hardly a matter of what it WAS but what it IS. Does this mean I should give up on evangelicalism? No, not any more than Catholics or Orthodox or Anglicans should abandon Christianity just because of wrongs their denominations have done. To abandon a church because of what I don't get out of it is no less consumeristic than to seek a church because I'm not getting what I want from the one I'm at. Hardly means I'll be happy with everything at the church I'm at, but then I reconciled myself to the reality that all the branches within the tree that is the body of Christ have rottenness in their limbs.

Frank writes a bit about how he discovered that his attempts to get somewhere in Hollywood failed, utterly, and that he forsook all that he believed in as an artist just to get by. When he writes about how he was tempted to re-convert to evangelicalism to drum up money for his family and decided against it is it wrong to agree with him that it was wise not to do that? I could be tempted to look down on him for admitting to professing beliefs he didn't hold but we have all been tempted to affirm things we don't really believe to get by and get along and some people, I guess, must actually do it. These confessions help to explain a nagging sense I had from Frnak's earlier evangelically based books that something just didn't seem right. Frank eventually figured out what that was.

I guess I'd blog more but I'm not sure what else to blog. I'm making some editorial adjustments to some music scores this weekend. I still haven't gotten around to blogging about some of the music and anime related stuff I wanted to blog about but life happens, of course, and it's better to blog on the whim than with too much intent. Perhaps as thoughts come to me (or IF they come to me) I'll blog more about Crazy for God later.