8:44 pm: One of the bloggers at Not Perfection puts the events of the week in perspective. “I feel bad about Ronald Reagan’s passing, but let’s keep perspective. You heard the call for it here first — put Ray Charles on the ten-dollar bill. Can I get an Amen?” Amen!
4:55 pm: Elizabeth Frankenberger in the Forward on the 75th birthday of Anne Frank: “For me, being Jewish meant that Santa skipped over our house on Christmas, just like God did in Egypt in the Passover story. But Anne’s story seemed more real than anything I had ever read in my haggadah, or seen on any after-school television special. Could being Jewish really have been that . . . special?” And Frankenberger on Anne Frank, Buddha-killer…
11:25 am: Selective inspiration: The Houston Chronicle reports on First Lady Laura Bush’s continued opposition to stem-cell research, reiterated in a series of television interviews this Wednesday. While Nancy Reagan pleads for the depoliticization of stem-cell research (which could likely help patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and multiple sclerosis), Laura Bush commends her strength of character for taking “care of the person you love, as you see them slip away like that.” Other opponents of the research expressed dismay that President Reagan’s death was being used by research-advocates to advance their cause.
Read more: “The Stem Cell Challenge,” The Rand Research Brief
10:58 am: The New York Times counts at least seven more dead in Nigeria after mobs destroyed a mosque in northeastern Adamawa State, adding to the more than 1,000 casualties of Christian-Muslim conflict since May. “The violence erupted,” they report, “after Christian youths were accused of setting the central mosque in the town of Numan on fire and attacking Muslims rebuilding its minaret, a year after the mosque was burned down in similar sectarian violence.”
10:37 am: How to lead The Purpose-Driven Life behind bars: John Leland reports in theNYTimes on the California prison system’s adoption of the bestselling evangelical how-to guide. Leland sidesteps the predictable faultline for such stories (church v. state, which isn’t as relevant in this case, since California provides plenty of similar secular programs), but doesn’t fill in the missing space with much else. Randall Balmer, Barry Lynn, and a parade of other “experts” trundle through the story to little effect. The program — and Purpose author Rick Warren’s brand of pop evangelism — are evaluated purely for their effectiveness, revealing a religious bias of mainstream media at odds with its “anti-religion” reputation. The Times, it seems, implicitly approves of religion that “works” — i.e., makes bad men docile. Martin Luther himself — terrified of the pitchfork-toting Protestant masses he inspired — could have written this treatise on the purpose of prison.