Web Notables (Feb. 16, 2015)

Downton Abbey and anti-Semitism, President Mobutu's jungle folly, Christianity and modern art, etc.

By The Editors Published on February 16, 2015

“Web Notables” is a daily feature that highlights articles readers may want to see but might have missed. It is compiled by senior editor David Mills.

‘Downton Abbey’ Creator Weighs in on His Debt to Judaism, an interview of Julian Fellowes in The Daily Telegraph. Referring to the anti-Semitism of the English aristocracy, Fellowes says, “I find anti-Semitism weirdly illogical. The English Jewish community supports the arts, it supports science, it supports education. It has great family values. Everything people approve of is rooted in this culture.”

His work as a writer came partly from his upbringing. Though the the son of the landed gentry, with two homes and a pony of his own, “I was always relatively unimportant. I wasn’t a great heir and I didn’t have a great name, and no one felt the need to laugh at my jokes. I got into the habit of being an observer.”

President Mobutu’s Ruined Jungle Paradise, Gbadolite — In Pictures, from The Guardian. “For posturing dictators it seems the transience of power and wealth is not enough. Only putting a new city on the map, shaped in their own image, will do,” correspondent David Smith writes in the accompanying article. Gbadolite was Zaireian typrant Mobutu Sese Seko’s contribution. It’s now a ruin in the middle of the nowhere.

From Campus Bullies to Empty Churches, by Mary Eberstadt in The Intercollegiate Review. Against the claim that college students stop going to church because they learn to think, Eberstadt argues that “college students do not stay out of church or synagogue because their education leads them to enlightened conclusions about the big questions.”

No, she says, “the more likely dynamic is that thanks to the new intolerance, the social and other costs of being a known believer in the public square mount by the year — and students take note.” She is the author of How the West Really Lost God.

Rich or Poor, We All Behave Badly, by Kate Wheeling in Pacific Standard. The title is not news to anyone who’s read Genesis 3, but the way people misbehave may be. According to a study by a professor from Northwestern University: “high social class individuals were apt to behave badly when it benefited themselves (saving money by skimping on taxes). Low social class individuals, meanwhile, were more likely to behave badly if it benefitted others (steal from the rich and give to the poor).”

Prayers at the Museum of Modern Art, by Dan Siedel in Christianity Today.  The art historian in residence at The King’s College in New York argues that “The best works of modern art can remind us that we are sons and daughters of Cain. The work of our hands is weak, vulnerable, and fragile, whether we acknowledge it or not. It is effective, if it is effective at all, only as the result of God’s grace.”

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