"John Paul II was perhaps the last Pope to embody the best of the Counter-Reformation tradition; Benedict XVI offers a link with far older roots of European civilization such as those of the Fathers of the Church, and of the founders of European monasticism, like his namesake. That may give him a deeper insight into the European soul than his predecessor, and suggests this could be a much more creative and surprising papacy than many might at first have expected."

Lose Your Faith--Get Rich

"Say you're a theologian in the religion business who's concluded that your company's oldest and most trusted product doesn't really exist. What do you do after the death of God?"

That is the godless theologian's conundrum as posed by Christianity Today. A theologian in such a spot might feign faith and wait for retirement or go into an allied line of work.

"Or," notes CT, "like Mark C. Taylor, you could become an entreprofessor, a broker in the emerging intellectual markets, trading in some of the hottest stocks in cultural capital. Pooling your dwindling fortunes in theology and philosophy with venture capital from postmodernism, you nimbly navigate the volatile and bubbling markets in profundity, hang out with the rich and famous, and after a while you're a pioneer in internet education, adulated in the Sunday New York Times. As long as the bubbles don't burst, and as long as the old business doesn't revive, you're as safe as a tenured academic-which, of course, you are already."

Taylor is author of "Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption." For those of us who believe in a world with redemption, it sounds sort of awful:

"A consummate bourgeois bohemian (or Bobo, to borrow from David Brooks)," notes CT, "Taylor embodies the merger, or perhaps the now-unmistakable fraternity, of countercultural iconoclasm and late-capitalist business culture. (Call it the hipness unto death.) So even if it's read only by a few thousand academics, Confidence Games is symptomatic of the tony nihilism that pervades the American professional and managerial classes."

The bad thing about this kind of pseudo intellectualism is that it will (like so much in today's culture) be intensely appealing for the half-educated.

A final quote from CT:

"'Confidence Games' is certainly brisk and truthful enough to seduce the uninformed or the intellectually fashion-conscious. Religion, art, and economics form an 'intricate interplay.' (Stroke chin, furrow brow, don't insist on distinctions.)..."

Beware of People in Bulky Clothes

The minute I heard that "random searches" of New York subway riders would be conducted, I thought: Why bother? Random searches don't make us safer. Searches of people who arouse suspicion might save lives.

But searching suspicious people instead of grandmothers in wheel chairs would involve making generalizations--and making generalizations has been demonized as profiling. But a remarkable piece in today's New York Times (!) entitled "When the Profile Fits the Crime," Paul Sperry shows why profiling isn't racially based--and why it is needed:

"Young Muslim men bombed the London tube, and young Muslim men attacked New York with planes in 2001. From everything we know about the terrorists who may be taking aim at our transportation system, they are most likely to be young Muslim men. Unfortunately, however, this demographic group won't be profiled. Instead, the authorities will be stopping Girl Scouts and grannies in a procedure that has more to do with demonstrating tolerance than with protecting citizens from terrorism.

"Critics protest that profiling is prejudicial. In fact, it's based on statistics. Insurance companies profile policyholders based on probability of risk. That's just smart business. Likewise, profiling passengers based on proven security risk is just smart law enforcement.

"Besides, done properly, profiling would subject relatively few Muslims to searches. Elderly Muslim women don't fit the terrorist profile. Young Muslim men of Arab or South Asian origin do. But rather than acknowledge this obvious fact, the New York Police Department has advised subway riders to be alert for 'people' in bulky clothes who sweat or fiddle nervously with bags.

"Well, a lot of people wear bulky clothes."


The Anglican Church in England has decided that lady bishops are okay--they somehow seemed to think that ordaining women to the priesthood was one decision, while letting them be bishops was a second one.