The Week

(Roman Genn)


Michael Gove, the British education secretary, wants young people to know how to add and subtract, to know some of the kings and queens of their country, and to know how to write a sentence. A teachers’ union, the ATL, condemned him in fierce terms. Its acting deputy general secretary said, “For the state to suggest that some knowledge should be privileged over other knowledge is a bit totalitarian in a 21st-century environment.” If Britons survive their education establishment, they are a great people indeed.

The Shroud of Turin — believed by many Christians, including (eloquently) NR senior editor Jeffrey Hart, to be the burial shroud of Jesus — is in the news, as the subject of a televised ostentation, or public display (with a video message by Pope Francis), as well as an app, Shroud 2.0. Giulio Fanti, a professor at the University of Padua, has also concluded, after 15 years of research on selected linen fibers, that the cloth is 2,000 years old, give or take a few centuries. A carbon-dating test in 1988 dated the Shroud to the 13th or 14th century, but Fanti says that test may have been contaminated with fibers from a medieval patch. The Catholic Church has never officially declared the Shroud to be genuine, and a definitive date consistent with Christ’s life would not settle the question of His nature (“Faith alone justifies us,” as another Christian remarked). But science, which excavates lost cities and probes the stars, rightly studies a possible relic of Jesus.

Comedian Jim Carrey made an asinine and unfunny anti-gun propaganda video in the form of an ersatz Hee Haw episode — no points for timeliness — in which he suggested that former NRA president Charlton Heston’s immortal soul was damned because he insisted on using firearms as penis substitutes. (This apparently is what now passes for humor in Carrey’s circles.) The world responded mostly with its usual weary shrug, though Carrey was criticized on Fox News while several gun enthusiasts gleefully began auctioning autographed photos of him on eBay, promising to use the proceeds to buy guns. Needless to say, Carrey, who has made a great deal of money waving guns around in the movies, is, like most celebrity gun-grabbers, protected by armed men during his public appearances. What strikes us is this: Years after his death and long after the zenith of his celebrity, Charlton Heston remains a large enough cultural presence that there apparently is some gain in mocking him. Thirty years from now, who will bother to parody the star of Mr. Popper’s Penguins?

Google will often celebrate a day by altering its logo. For example, if you used the search engine on St. Patrick’s Day, you saw some adorable kids dancing a jig. On Easter Sunday, you saw a worshipful, glowing portrait of Cesar Chavez, the labor leader, whose 86th birthday it was, or would have been (Chavez died in 1993). Jesus and the Resurrection do not need the publicity. But Cesar Chavez on Easter, really? Couldn’t they have thrown in a bunny or something, or made a couple of colored eggs out of those “O”s in “Google”? One is grateful that Che Guevara wasn’t born on December 25.

April 22, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 7

  • On the many splendors of Canada’s tar sands.
  • The euro zone signals that bank deposits are not safe.
Books, Arts & Manners
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