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Monday, December 28, 2015

No sacred public square? No gluten-free

Here's an example of civil debate - acknowledging and respecting both sides. In this case, Charles Krauthammer needles the gluten-free craze but if it works for you, fine. And in the interest of civil discussion, he pleas for freedom - freedom from gluten-free gloating! Here's his conclusion:

Turns out, according to a massive Australian study of 3,200 products, gluten-free is useless. “The foods can be significantly more expensive and are very trendy to eat,” says Jason Wu, the principal investigator. “But we discovered a negligible difference when looking at their overall nutrition.” 
Told you so.
Why then am I not agitating to have this junk taken off the shelves? Because of my other obsession: placebos. For which I have an undying respect, acquired during my early years as a general-hospital psychiatrist. If you believe in the curative powers of something — often encouraged by the authority of your physician — a sugar pill or a glass of plain water can produce remarkable symptom relief. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it.
So I’d never mess with it. If a placebo can alleviate your pain, that’s better than opioids. If going gluten-free gives a spring to your step, why not? But please, let the civility go both ways. Let the virtuous Fitbit foodie, all omega-3’d and gluten-free, drop the self-congratulatory smugness. And I promise not to say it’s all in his head.
Live and let eat.  His complete column is HERE
And now...more from Os Guinness:
Say No to the “Sacred Public Square” On one side in the culture wars are the partisans of a sacred public square, those who for religious, historical, or cultural reasons would continue to give a preferred place in public life to one religion—which in most current cases would be the Christian faith but one day could conceivably be the Muslim faith. Do they support an officially established national faith? No. Some, such as Christian “Reconstructionists,” would like to, but they are the fringe, and the religious-liberty clauses of the First Amendment forbid it unambiguously. So on issue after issue, most argue for a preferred or privileged place for faith, if only as a vestige from the past, as in the demand for prayer in public schools today.
To be fair, the Religious Right has been much maligned. Since it emerged as a force on the political scene in the mid-1970s, fundamentalism has become the “eighth deadly sin,” and we have seen one long open season on fundamentalism and those who have been variously insulted as “American ayatollahs,” “theocrats,” “Christianists,” “theocons,” and now “Christian fascists.” There is good reason for the updated version of Peter Vierek’s comment that antifundamentalism has replaced anti-Catholicism as the anti-Semitism of the intellectual.
Kevin Phillips, for example, has recently appeared on countless radio and television shows warning darkly of an “American theocracy.” But his is only the latest in a series of fevered liberal alarms that include fictional works, such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and nonfiction works whose warnings of what conservative Christians will require when they have their way in America are frankly ludicrous and unworthy of fair-minded liberals and serious reporters.
Liberals, in other words, choose to be progressive before they choose their policies, and are often no more independent in their thinking than traditionalists. But those who still prize fair-mindedness might consider the following: First, there is little in the traditionalist platform that would not have been the concerns of most Americans as recently as the 1950s. Second, if such concerns qualify as “theocracy” and “Christian fascism,” many of America’s most revered leaders in most earlier periods in American history would have been theocrats and fascists, too. Third, ruling out today’s movements as “theocratic” because of the influence of religion would also rule out such shining successful reforms as the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement, both of which—like almost all Western reform movements—were inspired by faith and led by people of faith.
Fourth, progressives who make such wild, inaccurate, and ill-tempered attacks end by becoming like those they attack, and their works take their place as astonishing exhibits of what otherwise decent people may think under the alarmist conditions of the culture wars.
The root trouble is that Phillips, and all the antitheocrats, define theocracy so loosely—for Phillips, it is “some degree of rule by religion”—that it would include (and therefore exclude) any influence of faith on public life. Some already use theocracy as the term of choice by which to object to every trace of faith in public life, as if the slightest public mention of God were enough to rekindle the fires of the Inquisition, and the merest whisper of a prayer were dangerous enough to warrant calling out the separationist police and their legal henchmen.
For which of us who prize the high place of reason and integrity would not desire to lead a life influenced and “ruled” by whatever we believe is true, right, good, and beautiful—and to persuade others of the merits of doing so, too?
The difference between free exercise and theocracy is simple, clear, and telling, yet in the fevered climate of the culture wars the two are taken as one. To paraphrase H. L. Mencken, today’s puritan is the person who is haunted by the thought that someone somewhere may possibly have breathed up a prayer in the public square.
Similarly, when Phillips proves the dangers of “the emerging Republican theocracy”—as he does by showing the numerical and political strength of the Southern Baptist Convention—he flies in the face of any fair-minded view of history. I am not a Baptist, but to accuse the heirs of Roger Williams, John Leland, and Isaac Backus of theocracy would be greeted as a trifle exaggerated, if not absurd, were it not for reviewers and readers ready to cheer for any attack on people they dislike.
As one who holds the Hebrew prophets in the highest esteem, I am outraged by the false prophets of fundamentalism, who violate the biblical canons of prophecy and pronounce in the name of the Lord what is theologically obscene and historically untrue. As one who is challenged to the core by the sublime call of Jesus of Nazareth that his followers should “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who abuse you,” I am appalled by the way the Religious Right attacks its fellow believers and demonizes its enemies. Shame on the scurrilous attacks in much Christian direct mail, and on fundamentalist pastors and their followers who hold placards in public such as “God hates fags,” “Thank God for maimed soldiers,” and “God hates you.”
Against all such hypocrisies, Wendell Berry rightly protests: “The Christian gospel is a summons to peace, calling for justice beyond anger, mercy beyond justice, and love beyond forgiveness.”

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