Of the Bible’s significance, nothing can be added to two sentences at the heart of Deuteronomy’s Shema. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
It is, at this point, a tired trope: the relative, usually an uncle, of at least embarrassing if not quite unsettling political opinions, a specimen of another time and place with thoughts on everything he’s eager to share but you’d rather he didn’t, at least while we’re eating, please. I have one, and you probably do, too—not so bad as the guides springing up online assume, telling you how to handle him as holiday feasts approach, but a character who keeps family meals interesting.
Yesterday saw the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Park for Lost Tourists. As has been reported, the Eisenhower memorial project has been a mess from the beginning, and now in the usual silly ceremony of shiny shovels shoved into dirt the mess is moving from the noumenal to the phenomenal—it’s not just a …
There is a part of me that would like to be able to laugh about the—legally speaking probably imminent but temporally speaking still a ways off—proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial.
It is, after all, to be built between the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education building and the John F. Kennedy-venerating Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, in earshot of the carousel on the National Mall that plays ice cream truck music forever. Designed by Frank Gehry with an estimated cost of some $150 million, it is supposed to include 8 enormous columns, 10 feet in diameter and 80 feet tall, standing about huge and erect, clad in limestone, like some sort of over-enthusiastic temple complex for Osiris or—as others have described them more delicately—missile silos, or smokestacks, or bad jokes about Ike’s interstate highway system.
For all of Tom Clancy’s obvious labor to ground his Jack Ryan novels in fact, there is something perfectly ideal about them. The Hunt for Red October (1984) and Patriot Games (1987) are products of “Morning in America.” So, for a first-time reader born on the cusp of 1995 and who became politically aware on September 11, 2001, these novels are pictures of a society that seems to have looked at America with complete confidence—works of such patriotism that intellectuals today would greet them as farce (as intellectuals did when they were first published). They are also terrific thrillers.
The religious life of ancient Rome grew and changed in texture and detail as immigrants flowed into the city and her legions returned from the frontiers. Each arrival brought with them new cults and mysteries and myriad sacred objects to fill her temples. But Rome was magnanimous; she could contain multitudes and contradiction so long as the rites of public life were fulfilled. Beneath the cult of her glory all other cults could contest for the souls of her people.