Saturday, October 13, 2007

Stephen F. Hayward: Environmental Gore
October 12, 2007 11:29 AM

Further damage to a once prestigious award.

Parson Al winning the Nobel Peace Prize was as predictable as his Oscar for Best Documentary, and represents the final debasement of a once-prestigious award. It used to be that the award went to people of genuine humanitarian or diplomatic accomplishment, like Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer or Doctors Without Borders. Now it goes to frauds and poseurs like Rigoberta Menchu, Yassir Arafat, the U.N. (three times now, counting Gore’s co-winner, the U.N.’s climate change panel), and Jimmy Carter.

About the only way to top this would be to give the next Peace Prize to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. More likely the Nobel committee will, one of these days, simply pat itself on the back and give the award to . . . themselves.

The glitter of the Nobel overshadows the inconvenient news reported last week that a British court of law labeled Gore’s movie as partisan political propaganda, pointing out 11 different errors of fact or scientific judgment, and prohibiting its screening in British public schools without a disclaimer of these defects. The Nobel will be one more quiver in Gore’s arsenal of intransigent moral authority by which he refuses to debate any aspect of the subject and declares the entire matter “settled.” It’s never a good sign when politicians declare a scientific matter settled; we all remember how well that worked out for the Vatican when they told Galileo 400 years ago that astronomy was settled. It is even more problematic to suggest that climate change is not a political issue, but a moral issue, but then to demand massive political interventions in the economy to fix the problem.

The adrenaline rush of the Nobel is likely to prove evanescent, however, and will probably turn out to be the high water mark of climate hysteria. Increasingly, climate catastrophe is coming more and more to resemble the hysteria over the “population bomb” of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In those days, Paul Ehrlich was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and there were government commissions launched here and abroad to ponder whether we needed an aggressive anti-natalist policy. The effort to develop a population policy in the U.S. collapsed quickly and quietly when someone pointed out that any anti-natalist policy would disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities.

Oops. Population pressures were and remain a genuine environmental concern, but it gradually became clear that Ehrlich and other alarmists had way overestimated the problem, and it looks very different today. (Indeed, the great social problem of the end of this century may be population that is falling too rapidly.) And while Ehrlich is still peddling the same Malthusian gloom, he never turns up on the Tonight Show any more; in fact, he doesn’t even make it on Hardball or Countdown with Krazy Keith.

Likewise, climate change is a real phenomenon, but the catastrophic scenario of Gore and his fellow climate campaigners is steadily fraying around the edges if you follow the scientific literature closely. Has anyone noticed, for example, that global temperature has been flat for the last decade, after two decades of slow and steady increase from 1980 to 1998? Most of the climate models suggest global temperature should be consistently warming with the rise of greenhouse gases, but it has stopped. This increasingly inconvenient truth will eventually become too obvious for even the media to ignore. Meanwhile, the real world economic consequences of Gore’s policy agenda (which Obama and Edwards—but not Hillary—have signed up for) are so extreme that no self-governing people will ever submit to it, which is why a few environmentalists have gone so far as to say openly, “down with democracy.” Go ahead; make my day; try that out on the American people. The Democratic Congress can’t even pass a modest emissions trading scheme that would barely begin to enact Gore’s agenda, because they are afraid of its cost.

Prediction: In 20 years Gore or his climate alarmist successors will be lucky to appear on cable access TV, and Gore’s Peace Prize will take its place alongside Le Duc Tho’s 1973 award as a Nobel embarrassment.

—Steven Hayward is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators (Pacific Research Institute/AEI).

Bjorn Lomborg: An inconvenient Peace Prize

Boston Globe
October 13, 2007

THIS YEAR'S Nobel Peace Prize justly rewards the thousands of scientists of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These scientists are engaged in excellent, painstaking work that establishes exactly what the world should expect from climate change.

The other award winner, former US vice president Al Gore, has spent much more time telling us what to fear. While the IPCC's estimates and conclusions are grounded in careful study, Gore doesn't seem to be similarly restrained.

Gore told the world in his Academy Award-winning movie to expect 20-foot sea-level rises over this century. He ignores the findings of his Nobel co-winners, who conclude that sea levels will rise between only a half-foot and two feet over this century, with their best expectation being about one foot. That's similar to what the world experienced over the past 150 years.

Likewise, Gore agonizes over the accelerated melting of ice in Greenland and what it means for the planet, but overlooks the IPCC's conclusion that, if sustained, the current rate of melting would add just 3 inches to the sea-level rise by the end of the century. Gore also takes no notice of research showing that Greenland's temperatures were higher in 1941 than they are today.

The politician-turned-moviemaker loses sleep over a predicted rise in heat-related deaths. There's another side of the story that's inconvenient to mention: rising temperatures will reduce the number of cold spells, which are a much bigger killer than heat. The best study shows that by 2050, heat will claim 400,000 more lives, but 1.8 million fewer will die because of cold. Indeed, according to the first complete survey of the economic effects of climate change for the world, global warming will actually save lives.

Gore has helped the world to worry. Unfortunately, our attention is diverted from where it matters. Climate change is not the only problem facing the globe.

Gore concentrates on his call for world leaders to cut CO2 emissions, yet there are other policies that would do much more for the planet. Over the coming century, developing nations will be increasingly dependent on food imports from developed countries. This is not primarily a result of global warming, but a consequence of more people and less arable land in the developing world.

The number of hungry people depends much less on climate than on demographics and income. Extremely expensive cuts in carbon emissions could mean more malnourished people. If our goal is to fight malnutrition, policies like getting nutrients to those who need them are 5,000 times more effective at saving lives than spending billions of dollars cutting carbon emissions.

Likewise, global warming will probably slightly increase malaria, but CO2 reductions will be far less effective at fighting this disease than mosquito nets and medication, which can cheaply save 850,000 lives every year. By contrast, the expensive Kyoto Protocol will prevent just 1,400 deaths from malaria each year.

While we worry about the far-off effects of climate change, we do nothing to deal with issues facing the planet today. This year, malnutrition will kill almost 4 million people. About 3 million lives will be lost to HIV/AIDS, and 2 1/2 million people will die because of indoor and outdoor air pollution. A lack of micronutrients and clean drinking water will claim 2 million lives each.

With attention and money in scarce supply, we should first tackle the problems with the best solutions, doing the most good throughout the century. If we focus on solving today's problems, we will leave communities strengthened, economies more vibrant, and infrastructures more robust. This will enable these societies to deal much better with future problems - including global warming. Committing to massive cuts in carbon emissions will leave future generations poorer and less able to adapt to challenges.

Gore has an unshakable faith that climate change is the world's biggest challenge. To be fair, he deserves some recognition for his resolute passion. However, the contrast between the Nobel winners could not be sharper. The IPCC engages in meticulous research where facts rule over everything else. Gore has a different approach.

Bjorn Lomborg is adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, and author of "Cool It" and "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore and the Mission of the Nobel Prizes

October 12, 2007

By John Berlau

Al Gore has won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. This choice, more than any other Nobel Committee selection, marks the end of a 105-year era. In direct contradiction of Alfred Nobel's last will and testament, the selection of Gore essentially means the Peace Prize can no longer be said to be an award for improving the condition of humankind. Looking at Gore's writing, it's far from clear that Gore even believes that humanity is his most important priority.

Not that there haven't been controversial or dubious selections before. Jimmy Carter was selected by the committee in 2002 in what was partly a political swipe at the Bush administration's foreign policy. Yasser Arafat was given the Peace Prize despite his ordering the killing of scores of innocent civilians.

But, at the very least, the stated aims of Carter and even Arafat were the improvement of human life. Gore, by contrast, does not even profess improving the human condition as his fundamental goal. Rather, his stated desire is to stop human activity that he sees as ruining what he calls the "ecosystem." Awarding the prize to Gore in 2007 is the equivalent of honoring the Luddites who tried to stop the beneficial technologies of Alfred Nobels's day.

A common theme of selection for the Nobel Peace Prize and the other Nobel awards has been the use of science and technology to overcome problems afflicting humans such as starvation and disease. This fulfills the vision of Swedish inventor and entrepreneur Nobel, who pioneered the product of dynamite. For the first time, an explosive device could be stored safely and detonate predictably on a large scale. Nobel's products were used for war, as even the most primitive explosives had been for centuries. But dynamite also vastly improved the 19th and 20th century standard of living through its use in the construction of buildings, railroad tunnels, and sea passages such as the Panama Canal.

In creating the annual prizes for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and the promotion of world peace (roughly the same five fields for which Nobels are awarded today today), Nobel stated the desire in his will to honor

"those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."

According to Alfred Nobel: A Biograpy by Kenne Fant, an earlier draft of Nobel's will stipulated that prizes in all categories should be

"a reward for the most important pioneering discoveries or works in the field of knowledge and progress."

But for Albert Gore, Jr. the fields of knowledge and progress are suspect, and so are many types of technology with benefits to mankind. This is a man who speaks despairingly of "our civilization" and sees as flawed man's attempt to rise above "nature." He describes global warming as "the category 5 collision between our civilization - as we currently pursue it - and the earth's environment."

He has been critical of "civilization" and human technological advancement even before global warming became his main issue. In the introduction to his 1992 book Earth in the Balance, Gore writes,

"In one sense, civilization itself has been on a journey from its foundations in the world of nature to an ever more contrived, controlled and manufactured world of our own imitative and sometimes arrogant design. And in my view, the price has been high."

But exactly what part of "controlling" and "contriving" does Gore object to? Does he really think the price of curing diseases through new drugs or feeding the world through advance farming techniques been too "high." In many passages of his writing, the answer seems to be yes. This puts him conflict with the vision of Nobel as well as that of many of the previous prize recipients honored for their pioneering achievements in agriculture or medicine.

Several Nobel prizes, for instances, have honored life-saving breakthroughs in stopping cancer. But in Earth in the Balance, Gore wonders aloud whether cancer treatments should be used if they would result in the harvesting of what he considers to be to be too many trees. On page 119 he writes:

"The Pacific Yew can be cut down and processed to produce a potent chemical, taxol, which offers some promise of curing certain forms of lung, breast, and ovarian cancer in patients who would otherwise quickly die. It seems an easy choice - sacrifice the tree for a human life - until one learns that three trees must be destroyed for each patient treated."

As Gore's apologists have pointed out, he does later in the passage list one of his reasons as saving some trees for future generations. But there is no discussion in Gore's passage about a basic solution to this dilemma -- simply plant new groves of yews! Thus, he still seems to be giving the life of an old Pacific Yew a competing claim with a dying cancer patient.

But it's not just cancer patients that come into Gore's technological crosshairs. Gore also points out the supposedly dire effect on nature of growing more food to feed the hungry. Ironically, he blasts what is called the "green revolution," the high-yield farming and plant breeding that has made countries like India and Pakistan self-sustaining in agriculture. Norman Borlaug won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering these techniques and bringing them to the Third World.

But in Earth in the Balance Gore decries "the much-heralded Green Revolution" as well as biotechnology that promises to further revolutionize agriculture. Gore concedes,

"To be sure, these same new ‘miracle crops' ... have temporarily conquered hunger in a few of the Third World Nations."

But, he concludes,

"the higher yields made possible by genetically altered crop strains often cannot be sustained over time, as the pests and blights catch up to them and as overirrigation and overfertilizing take their toll on soil productivity."

Modern farming techniques, he writes, are

"a set of dangerous bargains with the future worthy of the theatrical legend that haunted the birth of the scientific revolution: Dr. Faustus."

This is an example of how Gore alarms and misleads at the same time. Yes, any agricultural improvement may have negative side effects that need to be fixed. But India's "temporary" conquering of hunger has lasted 40 years, and the nation is now a net grain exporter. Borlaug has also been honored by politicians of both parties, as he is a senior consultant to the Carter Center and was surrounded by President Bush and the House and Senate leaders Pelosi and Reid when he received the Congressional Gold Medal this July. Gore's disparaging of Borlaug's prize-winning achievement shows how far out of the scientific mainstream Gore is on this and other issues.

Unfortunately, Gore still has plenty of influence as an ambassador of science to the media and lay public, and a Nobel Peace Prize may magnify this even more. The results of honoring Gore's dishonoring of human progress could be tragic and devastating. Look no further than Gore's tirades against another Nobel-winning achievement: the life-saving insecticide DDT.

The Nobel Committee recognized DDT's immeasurable contribution to public health. In 1948, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Paul Hermann Muller, the Swiss chemist who discovered DDT's effectiveness at combating the insects that spread deadly diseases. As the Nobel web site entry for Dr. Muller states, "Field trials now showed it [DDT] to be effective not only against the common housefly, but also against a wide variety of pests, including the louse, Colorado beetle, and mosquito," The web site notes further that during World War II, DDT "proved to be of enormous value in combating typhus and malaria -- malaria was, in fact, completely eradicated from many island areas."

And after World War II, DDT eradicated malaria in vast areas of the world, including parts of the southern United States. But it was vilified in the 1962 book "Silent Spring" written by Rachel Carson, a woman Gore has called a heroine. As a result of the ensuing U.S. and worldwide near-prohibition on making DDT, several millions have died in Africa from mosquito-borne malaria that DDT could prevent.

Even after the turnabout by the World Health Organization, the New York Times and other establishment venues, Gore has never once said that Rachel Carson was wrong. As late as 1996, he called DDT a "notorious compound" that "presented serious human health risks." The tragedy is that on this issue, Gore could have used his tremendous political capital to make a difference in reducing malaria deaths.

And Gore is still hindering anti-malaria efforts by spreading misinformation about its main causes. In his movie and book An Inconvenient Truth, Gore blames global warming for recent outbreaks of malaria in the cooler regions of Kenya. But as I have reported in my book Eco-Freaks and elsewhere, the World Health Organization had documented epidemics in those very regions in the 1940s, long before global warming was on the radar screen. The malaria was wiped out there, as elsewhere, by DDT, and unfortunately, as elsewhere, has now returned in the absence of DDT's use.

Also unfortunate is that the establishment media for the most part has not seen fit to correct Gore on this and many other dangerous misstatements in An Inconvenient Truth. Now, they may be even less inclined to do so. Never before would the awarding of a Nobel Prize have to potential to due so much damage to public health and human progress. If the Nobel Committee goes with the "politically correct" winds, it is incumbent on every Nobel laureate who cares about the legacy of Alfred Nobel to denounce this terrible decision.

Updated 9:02 AM EDT
John Berlau is a policy director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of the Amazon best-selling book Eco-Freaks

Patrick J. Buchanan: George W. Bush, Globalist

October 11, 2007

Patrick J. Buchanan

Have the Bush Republicans ceased to be reliable custodians of American sovereignty?

So it would seem.

President George W. Bush began well. He rejected the Kyoto Protocol on global warming negotiated by Vice President Al Gore as both injurious to the economy and rooted in questionable science. He refused to allow the armed forces and diplomats of the United States to be brought under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

But now President Bush is about to take his country by the hand and make a great leap forward into world government. He has signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which transfers jurisdiction over the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans and all the oil and mineral resources they contain, to an International Seabed Authority. This second United Nations would be ceded eternal hegemony over two-thirds of the Earth. It is the greatest U.N. power grab in history and, thanks to George Bush, is about to succeed.

Within the Authority, consisting of 155 nations, America would have one vote and no veto. However, we would pay the principal share of the operating costs, as we do today of the United Nations.

In 1978, Ronald Reagan declared, "No national interest of the United States can justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth's surface over to the Third World."

Rejecting the New International Economic Order that sought to effect a historic transfer of wealth and power from the First World to the Third, President Reagan in 1982 refused to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty or send it to the Senate. Now, Bush, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., have resurrected this monstrosity and are about to ram it through the U.S. Senate with, if you can believe it, the support of the U.S. Navy.

The rot of globalism runs deep in this capital city.

What is the matter with Bush? What is the matter with the U.S. Navy? For the sea treaty grants us no rights we do not already have in international law and tradition—it only codifies them. It siphons off national rights, national sovereignty and national wealth, however, and empowers global bureaucrats and Third World kleptocrats whose common trait is jealousy of and hostility toward the United States.

Under LOST, if the United States wishes to mine the ocean or scoop up minerals from its floor, we would have to pay a fee and get permission from the Authority, then provide a subsidiary of the Authority called the Enterprise with a comparable site for its own exploitation with our technology. Eventually, the Authority would collect 7 percent of the revenue from the U.S. mining site, giving this institution of world government what the United Nations has hungered for for decades: the power to tax nations.

While the treaty assures the right of peaceful passage on the high seas and through narrows that are territorial waters, we already have that right under international law. And for the past two centuries, we have had as guarantor of the right of free passage the U.S. Navy. Now, we will have it courtesy of the International Seabed Authority.

"It is inconceivable to this naval officer," writes Adm. James Lyons, former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, "why the Senate would willingly want to forfeit its responsibility for America's freedom of the seas to the unelected and unaccountable international agency that would be created by the ratification of LOST.

"The power of the U.S. Navy, not some anonymous bureaucracy, has been the nation's guarantee to our access to and freedom of the seas. I can cite many maritime operations—from the blockade of Cuba in 1962, to the reflagging of ships in the Persian Gulf, to our submarine intelligence-gathering programs—that have been critical to maintaining our freedom of the seas and protecting our waters from encroachment. All those examples would likely have to be submitted to an international tribunal for approval if we become a signatory to this treaty. ... This is incomprehensible." [U.S. LOST at sea?, By James Lyons October 5, 2007]

U.S. warships today inspect vessels suspected of carrying nuclear contraband. In the Cold War, U.S. submarines entered harbors to tap into communications cables to protect our national security. Our subs routinely transit straits submerged. To do this, post-LOST, the Navy would have to get permission from an Authority composed of states most of which have an almost unbroken record of voting against us in the United Nations.

Why are we doing this? Do we think we will win the approbation of the international community if we show ourselves to be good global citizens by surrendering our rights and our wealth?

The Law of the Sea Treaty is an utterly unnecessary transfer of authority from the United States and of the wealth of its citizens to global bureaucrats who have never had our interests at heart, and to Third World regimes that have never been reliable friends. That Republicans senators think this is a good idea speaks volumes about what has become of the party of T.R., Bob Taft, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

And they call themselves conservatives.

Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Born to run with the Boss

For Bruce-o-philes, Springsteen's Canadian stops on his world tour will be a chance for another family reunion - with the working-class hero who brings them closer to their loved ones


Toronto Globe and Mail

October 11, 2007 at 8:20 AM EDT

They may not be born in the U.S.A., but Canadians love Bruce too.

When Bruce Springsteen plays in Ottawa on Sunday and Toronto on Monday, he'll be greeted by Canadian fans who verge on the fanatic.

To them, he's more than an American icon - he's the soundtrack of their lives, their hero and often the tie that binds them to their closest friends and family.

"We don't keep in touch all the time," says Paul Sweeney, a 45-year-old Ottawa property manager, about his brother Brian.

Karen Graham, 42, who works at a Montreal brokerage firm, got Bruce Springsteen's autograph through the fence at a private airport in Buffalo - and turned it into a tatoo. (John Morstad for The Globe and Mail)

"But when Springsteen comes around, we get together. It's a common bond between us."

They'll catch the concert in Ottawa together - the seventh show for Paul and the ninth for Brian.

Dana Beech of Ajax, Ont., met her husband when he was the bus driver for her trip to a Springsteen concert in Detroit. Now, when he complains about her going to yet another show - the Toronto concert will be her 33rd - she reminds him that her "obsession" brought them together.

Ms. Beech discovered Mr. Springsteen when she was 8, after her parents' divorce. She listened to Wild Billy's Circus Story over and over. "It just transported me to a better place."

She's bonded with friends while camping out before concerts in New York and while touring landmarks in Mr. Springsteen's hometown of Asbury Park, N.J.

"I really cherish what Bruce has brought to my life in terms of friendships," Ms. Beech says.

And they don't just talk about set lists, she says; they share stories about kids and talk about work issues as well.

Plenty of musicians have fans, but Bruce-o-philes are a different breed.

Springsteen lovers belie the stereotype of superfans as obsessive loners, says Daniel Cavicchi, author of Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning Among Springsteen Fans.

"I found fans who not only carried around in their heads this idea of belonging together, of a fellowship - they worked really hard to make it real," says Dr. Cavicchi, an associate professor of American studies at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Springsteen fandom is also something that's handed down through generations. Tony Pacheco, a musician from Dutton, Ont., wanted to name his son Reno, after the 2005 song. His girlfriend nixed the idea after listening to the lyrics, which vividly describe an encounter with a prostitute.

Still, when she was pregnant, Mr. Pacheco often played another Springsteen tune, Radio Nowhere. Now it's his seven-week-old son's lullaby.

"He can be crying and wailing but as soon as I start that song he stops crying," says Mr. Pacheco, 36. He bought two copies of this week's new album, Magic, one of which he's saving in his son's keepsake box.

Many fans say it's the live Springsteen shows that inspire near-religious devotion. Anyone who's gone to fewer than 20 concerts is still a newbie in some circles.

Karen Graham, 42, of Montreal, says every one of the more than 30 concerts she has seen was different. "There's always an 'Oh my God!' moment," she says. "It's like your favourite movie: You can see it over and over and you don't get bored."

Ms. Graham, who works at a brokerage firm, likens her love of Mr. Springsteen to an addiction - but a good one. "After a concert I feel high and I want to see another show as soon as possible," she says.

And in a world where it's increasingly difficult to separate the real from the fake, Mr. Springsteen has maintained his authenticity, even as the working-class hero became a multimillionaire.

"They say you should never meet your hero, but with him that's not true," says Ms. Graham, who got his autograph - which she turned into a shoulder tattoo - through the fence at a private airport in Buffalo. "He's not a prima donna. Meeting him made me love him even more."

As the ultimate American icon, Mr. Springsteen may seem an unlikely Canadian idol. But as his worldwide sales demonstrate, the Boss's appeal is international.

And although he doesn't tour in Canada often, fans here take pride in going the extra mile - or thousand miles.

"You probably have to work a little bit harder to be a fan," says superfan Humphrey Kadaner, 48, who, as a university student, was nearly arrested once for trying to sell an extra ticket. He got off with a warning, and more importantly, he didn't miss the show.

Now the president of HMV Canada, Mr. Kadaner is putting his money where his mouth is: Anyone who buys Magic from HMV and doesn't like it will get their money back and a letter of apology.

Mr. Kadaner has seen 84 shows - which sounds more reasonable when you consider that that's over 30 years, he hastens to add.

"I believe some would suggest I am nuts," Mr. Kadaner says. But like so many Springsteen fans, when the lights go down and the Boss runs onto the stage, he just won't care.

"When you see him live, it's unparalleled."

Teaching My Son to Respect The Boss

As Springsteen launches a new tour, one devoted fan tries passing on his passion

The Wall Street Journal
October 6, 2007; Page W1

When you've spent more than 30 years following a musician -- buying every new release, catching every tour, enjoying the music through everything from an eight-track tape player to a video iPod -- it seems only natural to want to share the intensity of the experience with your 14-year-old son.

"Jesse, how would you like to go with me to Hartford to see Bruce Springsteen on the opening night of his latest tour?"

Long pause.

"Who else is playing?"

It is, as it was fully intended to be, a body blow. How could I have failed so miserably as a father?

It's hard to explain to a young teenager -- or, for that matter, many of my middle-age peers -- the continuing, key role Mr. Springsteen has played in the assorted chapters of my life. My memory is filled with joyful scenes: wildly dancing to "Rosalita" with my friends Kip and Rachel in a roach-infested West Philadelphia college apartment. Camping out all night on South Street to score tickets for the "Darkness on the Edge of Town" tour. Seated in the 13th row on the floor of Earl's Court in London in 1999 with my sister and a row of colleagues and friends, two of whom had flown in from the U.S. just to see The Boss reunite with the E Street Band.

Then there was the time in Maryland when my wife's friend who had never seen Mr. Springsteen perform live before turned to me after he and the band had exited the stage following one of "The River" shows. All she could utter was, "Where does he play next?"

It's always possible, of course, that some of the groups Jesse now listens to -- Franz Ferdinand, the White Stripes, Keane, Wolfmother -- will still be touring and releasing great new material decades from now. But in the iTunes Era, when a kid can, with a few mouse clicks, download a hit song for a buck, then go back to instant messaging with friends, it seems that longevity -- let alone loyalty -- isn't the point.

Rock 'n' roll history is also largely irrelevant. According to Jesse, many of his high-school friends have never even heard of Bruce Springsteen, who just turned 58.

Tuesday night's Hartford show, which marked the release of Mr. Springsteen's new CD, "Magic," was not, at least technically speaking, Jesse's first Springsteen concert. In 2002, when we were living in London, I managed to get two tickets at Wembley Arena for one of the early shows on "The Rising" tour. Jesse had just turned 9 and, although I could have traded the extra ticket for the Queen's jewels, I decided it was time to take him to his first rock concert.

The small boy stood with the crowd through the band's powerful opening numbers, "The Rising" and "Lonesome Day," then both new, and a classic, "No Surrender." Then he sat down, curled up in his seat, and fell into a deep sleep. It hadn't helped that the clocks had been set back an hour that fall day or that my wife, out of legitimate concern, had insisted that he wear earplugs. I did manage to awake him briefly during the encore for "Born to Run," when everyone in the arena, now illuminated with floodlights, stood on their seats, pumping their fists into the air. But to a sleepy child, it must have seemed a bizarre dream. He closed his eyes again and didn't open them until morning.

These days, though, at least at home, Jesse is as much a rebel as some of the characters in Mr. Springsteen's trademark songs. My son reluctantly agreed to come to Hartford mainly, I think, because it was a rare chance to stay up late during a school night.

Over Jesse's intense opposition, I played the new "Magic" album in the car on the way to the concert. Jesse insisted the opening number, "Radio Nowhere" -- a high-octane, guitar-driven rocker with the intensity of Mr. Springsteen's earlier "Because the Night" or "Light of Day" -- was simply a rip-off from the band Green Day. My suggestion that Green Day might have been more influenced by Mr. Springsteen than the other way around went, as Mr. Springsteen sings, nowhere. As we headed down Interstate 84 in Connecticut, Jesse launched similar cheap shots at other new songs, mainly centered on Mr. Springsteen's vocal abilities.

But once Mr. Springsteen and the E Streeters hit the stage at the Hartford Civic Center, opening with a fiery version of "Radio Nowhere," I noticed a subtle change coming over my doubting son. He was slowly swaying to the beat.

In my completely biased view, no one performs better live than Mr. Springsteen. His shows offer a jolt of pure energy, passion and just plain fun that I've never seen equaled by countless other artists. His bandmates, each a remarkable talent, feel by this point like an extended family (Mr. Springsteen married one of them, singer Patti Scialfa). Having caught every tour since 1978, I find that his studio songs, particularly in the last 20 years, really are just drafts and can't be judged until they've been given a chance to evolve, usually over months, on the road.

That's certainly true of "Magic," his first release with the E Street Band since "The Rising," his 2002 response to the 9/11 tragedy and arguably his best work since the 1984 megahit album "Born in the U.S.A."

On a first listen, "Magic" seems somewhat overproduced and a bit disjointed. But on stage, as usual, it's a different story.

Already, a new song like "Gypsy Biker" -- apparently about the death of a soldier in Iraq -- is far more raw and powerful performed live than the muted version on the recording. Same with "Last to Die," unequivocally Mr. Springsteen's take on the Iraq war. "Who'll be the last to die for a mistake?" he sings over and over.

As with any established rock star, it's the old songs that bring the crowds back for more. Mr. Springsteen rewarded the first-night audience with many, including seven from the 1970s, ranging from "Night" and "She's the One" off his "Born to Run" masterpiece (a friend once accurately observed, "There isn't one bad note on that record.") to "Badlands" and the "Promised Land." Only "Darkness on the Edge of Town" struck me as a bit rusty.

For me, the show's absolute highlight was "Thundercrack," a song I had never heard performed live. Mr. Springsteen introduced it during the encore as being from "the original E Street Band" days, meaning pre-1975; other than bootlegs, it wasn't commercially available until the 1998 "Tracks" collection of archival material. It's a silly, rollicking tribute to a girl who's a wonder on the dance floor, and it dates to the "Rosalita" period, when his music was far more loose and experimental, with lyrics that were anything but political. The song begins with the band chanting: "Her brains they rattle and her bones they shake, Whoa, she's an angel from the Innerlake." From there, it slowly builds to a saxophone-laced frenzy.

Just before the encore, an inebriated concertgoer spilled beer on Jesse's shirt. I took that as an opportunity to ask if he might be interested in one of the Bruce Springsteen T-shirts on sale in the lobby. To my surprise (and delight), he agreed to look at the selection, and he even let me buy him one.

Even more amazing: He wore it to high school the next morning.

Write to Steve Stecklow at

Wednesday's Meadowlands Show is One for the Ages

Newark Star-Ledger

(From Tuesday's show at the CAA)

About The Author

Latest Posts
Wednesday's Meadowlands show is one for the ages
Solid show Tuesday at Continental Airlines Arena
Wow! What a Saturday night in Philadelphia
Friday, Oct. 5 Philadelphia setlist
Good opener in Hartford

Concerts (RSS)

Favorite Links
Springsteen shrine
Springsteen forum

Wednesday's Meadowlands show is one for the ages

Posted by Stan Goldstein October 11, 2007 12:30AM
Categories: Concerts

Wednesday night's Bruce Springsteen show at the Continental Airlines Arena is going to be of those shows that you brag to your friends 10 years from now: "I was there that night at the Meadowlands!"

What can I say, it was an awesome show. For me, the best show of the Magic Tour so far, and one that will be remembered as a very special night in the Springsteen lore.

Four songs were tour debuts, and the first time one of the songs from the Magic album was played live.

Show began at 8:20 p.m

1. Radio Nowhere

2. Night- Works well as an opener or in the second slot.

3. Lonesome Day

4. Gypsy Biker

5. Magic

6. Reason to Believe- For the past two shows, Bruce has "sssshhhhed" the crowd before the start of the song. I guess he wants quiet when he starts singing in the bullet mic, but the crowd starts getting into the song and Bruce interrupts that.

7. Adam Raised a Cain- Tour debut. Always great to hear this song.

8. She's the One

9. Living in the Future

10. Cynthia- Tour debut. This was an audible (a song that wasn't on the setlist and Bruce decides to do on the spur of the moment).This song hasn't been played often, but is a great song to play live. The band looked very excited to play it when Bruce told them about it.

11. The Promised Land

12. A Town Called Heartbreak- This is Patti Scialfa's song from her new album. Bruce and Patti share the lead vocals. Backed by the E Street Band.

13. Incident On 57th Street- Always a magical moment when this song is played.

14. Your Own Worst Enemy- First time ever played live. Bruce said: "We're having a debate," while talking to members of the band. And then he said: "Never before attempted!"It sounded pretty good. "It was close!" Bruce said to the crowd as he laughed at the end of the song.

15. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)-Tour debut"Come On Steve! Put on that electric guitar" Bruce said before the start. Steve and Bruce had a lot of fun on this song. Steve was hamming it up a bit.

16. Devils Arcade

17. The Rising

18. Last to Die

19. Long Walk Home

20. Badlands

Main set over at 10:05 p.m.


"Thank you for a great night in New Jersey" Bruce yelled out.

21. Girls in Their Summer Clothes

22. Thundercrack- Dedicated to "our good friend Lenny Kaye," the dean of garage rock, Patti Smith Group guitarist, and curator of the original Nuggets. Kaye was at the show.
This gets better and better each time I see it. Bruce and Nils leaned on each others back while playing some of the guitar parts. Really great.

23. Born to Run

24. Dancing in The Dark- Bruce yelled out to the band to play this. It was either this or Waiting on A Sunny Day on the setlist.

25. American Land

"Thank you, Good night, We'll be back!" Bruce said as the show ended at 10:43 p.m.

The "we'll be back" part is a good indication that there will be multiple Springsteen shows at Giants Stadium next summer.

Great show, great night. The longest show so far of the tour. The best way to sum it all up may have been a sign that someone was holding up in the front row behind the stage: "Thanks Bruce. It's all been Magic!"

Post a comment View comments (6)



No tricks up Springsteen's sleeve, just plenty of musical 'Magic' at the Meadowlands

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 10/11/07


With his new tour under way and his new music well received, Bruce Springsteen took the stage at the Meadowlands Tuesday with confidence and determination.

"Good evening, fellow New Jerseyans, neighbors and friends," the Freehold native said with characteristic good cheer.

Tuesday's concert with the E Street Band was the first of four area shows in Springsteen's official "Magic" tour, which continued at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford on Wednesday and moves across the Hudson to Madison Square Garden next week.

Last month's concerts in Asbury Park, great as they were, go down as "rehearsal shows" in the official record-keeping of the tour.

"Magic," Springsteen's first effort with the E Street Band since "The Rising," is an
album laced with despair and shot through with outrage. The lyrics, sobering and melancholy, lament the fallen in Iraq and criticize the federal government's methods and policies in the post-9/11 climate.

What has made "Magic" such a chart-topping success, however, is the music behind the message. The songs rock, with strong beats and fluid melodies.

The mournful wail of guitar on "Gypsy Biker" set the mood Tuesday night, reverberating around the arena like a ghost. "Livin' In the Future," a song of justified paranoia, became all the more poignant when followed by the clear-eyed tenacity of "The Promised Land."

Springsteen's awe-inspiring catalog of songs fared well in the set list, with "Born To Run" as exhilarating as ever. "Dancing In the Dark" and "Brilliant Disguise" were worthy additions to a two-hour concert that celebrated melody as well as message.

The extended introduction to "Candy's Room," with Max Weinberg's drumsticks tapping in feverish rhythm, deepened the tension of the song. The band then blasted into "She's the One" without resting a beat, thrilling the audience with a one-two punch of classic Bruce.

For the most part, Springsteen let the songs do the talking, though he introduced several tracks from "Magic," with explanations and warnings. The CIA's torture of detainees, he said, may well leave an indelible mark on American culture, becoming as much a part of "the American picture" as the things we cherish,from "cheeseburgers and Max's hot dogs at the Jersey Shore" to "the Bill of Rights, just below Max's hot dogs, and Clarence "Big Man" Clemons."

Ah, yes, Clarence Clemons, saxophonist and on-stage foil. The mere mention of the man brought fans to their feet. There was quite a lot of support for the E Streeters at the Meadowlands, with fans carrying placards that read "Big Man" for Clemons, and "Mighty Max" for drummer Max Weinberg.

All with good reason. Springsteen's longtime bandmates brought passion and precision to every song. The only flash and dazzle in the spare production came from audience members, who waved their cell phones to demand an encore, an effective new tool in smoke-free arenas. Hundreds of glowing cell phones outshone the cigarette lighters of yesteryear.

Video screens on either side of the stage offered fans dramatic close-ups of Springsteen at the microphone and guided their attention to specific band members at various points in a song. This was especially helpful when the camera zeroed in on Roy Bittan at the piano, because most of the audience could not see Bittan's hands moving across the keys.

Before the concert began, long lines formed at concession stands and in rest rooms, and excitement built among fans.

Joseph Maurice, 38, of Glen Rock, first caught Springsteen in concert during the "Born In the U.S.A." tour of 1984. Maurice found the "Magic" album appealing because the music reminds him of the classic tunes Springsteen crafted in the '80s.

"I like it because it goes back to some of the older sounds," Maurice said. "It helps that he's back with the E Street Band."

Meegan Motisi, 32, of New Rochelle, is a second-generation Bruce fan, having first heard the music from her father's record collection.

"My brother and I know every single song, every single word, because my father played the music so often while we were growing up," Motisi said. "Now when I got to shows, I bring my father home a T-shirt."

The Meadowlands concert was the first Springsteen show for Ali Donohue, 17, of Westfield, who normally gravitates to punk, ska, hardcore and indie rock.
"My dad is a fan," she explained.

Her father, Tim Donohue, 45, was pleased to introduce his daughter to 'the best live show there is.'

Ali Donohue was game, saying, "I'm a fan of New Jersey in general. I really like living here and being from here, and I feel Bruce Springsteen really embodies that."

Robert Spencer: Palestinians Crucify the Holy Land

Robert Spencer

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Last Saturday, Palestinian Christian Rami Ayyad was abducted and murdered. His body was found the next day. Six months ago, a bomb destroyed Ayyad’s Christian bookstore, the Holy Bible Society in Gaza City.

No group claimed responsibility for the murder of Ayyad, but the bombing of his bookstore was consistent with the pattern of bombings carried out by a jihadist group calling itself “The Righteous Swords of Islam.”

Ayyad’s death comes at a time when the position of Christians in the Palestinian Authority is more precarious than ever. Dr. Justus Weiner of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs said in July that “for a number of years now, this minority community [of Christians] has been in dire need of assistance. Palestinian Christians are unable to practice their religion in freedom and in peace. Most in danger are Arab Christians. And most in danger among Arab Christians are those who have converted from Islam. They are often left defenseless against cruelty from Muslim fundamentalists.”

This cruelty is often hallowed by the sanction of Islamic law. Sheikh Abu Saqer of the jihadist group Jihadia Salafiya announced last June: “I expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza.” This would mean that, in accord with ancient provisions of Islamic Sharia law, Christians could practice their religion, but only if they did so inconspicuously: “Jihadia Salafiya and other Islamic movements will ensure Christian schools and institutions show publicly what they are teaching to be sure they are not carrying out missionary activity. No more alcohol on the streets. All women, including non-Muslims, need to understand they must be covered at all times while in public.” Hamas even intends to reinstitute the jizya, the special tax mandated by the Qur’an (9:29) for Jews and Christians, but from which Muslims are exempt from paying.

Christians are accordingly streaming out of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas – including some of the holiest sites in Christendom. Christians comprised 85 percent of the population of Bethlehem in 1948; by 2006 their numbers had dwindled to twelve percent, and a large mosque has been built on one side of Manger Square, right across from the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Muslim thugs beat a Christian cab driver in Bethlehem, George Rabie, just for displaying a crucifix in his cab. Rabie noted: “Every day, I experience discrimination….Many extremists from the villages are coming into Bethlehem.” Sometimes this discrimination turns lethal: several years ago, Muslims shot dead two Christian women for not wearing the Islamic veil. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility and explained: “We wanted to clean the Palestinian house of prostitutes.” Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of a private Christian television station, observed last January: “The situation is very dangerous. I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation.” A Bethlehem hotelier, Joseph Canawati, said simply: “There is no hope for the future of the Christian community. We don’t think things are going to get better. For us, it is finished.”

Yet while all this has gone on the world has turned a blind eye. The UN has issued no resolutions calling upon the Palestinians to stop mistreating their Christian minority. Human rights organizations have likewise been silent. And in the West, where Islamic advocacy groups and student groups profess to reject and abhor “extremism,” the oppression of Palestinian Christians has likewise not registered on the radar screen. The Council on American Islamic Relations has said nothing about it. Neither has the Muslim Public Affairs Council. And on campuses around the country, Leftist and Muslim groups are denouncing organizers of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week events, instead of joining with them to stand against the oppression of Christians (as well as women, gays, and others) in all too many Muslim countries today.

Why is that? If these groups really oppose jihadist activity and Sharia oppression, why won’t they stand against them? These groups have been directing their efforts toward discrediting Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week by casting aspersions upon David Horowitz and others. Some have stooped even to fabricating posters in order to portray the organizers of the Week as bigoted and hateful. The losers in all this are the Palestinian Christians and other victims of jihadist oppression. The only ones who are speaking up for them are being vilified and smeared by those who claim to be the sentinels of tolerance and justice.

Yet if Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is ultimately shouted down on campuses all over the country, among the winners will be those who are making life so miserable for Christians in the Palestinian Authority and all over the Islamic world. And no one will be left to speak for them at all.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?.

Frank Schaeffer Goes Crazy for God

[I'm at odds with some of what is found in this piece but it does make for interesting reading. - jtf]

This article can be found on the web at

The Nation

[from the October 15, 2007 issue]

In the spring of 1973, I was hitchhiking through Europe with my Marxist husband, and we stopped in Switzerland to visit a friend who was staying at a place called L'Abri. I had never heard of L'Abri (except through my friend), but the setting of the community's chalets--an Alpine hamlet overlooking the Rhone Valley--was beautiful, as was the weather, and as soon as I arrived I noticed an invigorating rejection of all forms of asceticism. Everyone--teachers, students, helpers--was good-looking and well dressed, and the food was delicious. They put us up for two nights and engaged us in conversation for three days. I felt only mildly uncomfortable at first, but then I happened upon an earnest conversation between some quite normal-looking young men about "Satan," in which "Satan" was a being or a person actively attempting to undermine the best efforts of these guys to live a "godly" life. I admit I was shaken. I think I said something on the order of "You've got to be kidding," and when they professed their sincerity, I began to wonder what sort of place I had stumbled into.

On the second night, we attended a lecture given by a man named Os Guinness. He was tall, with a British way about him, respectable looking. He talked for an hour in a reasonable way, much like a college professor. The message of his lecture was simple--he convinced me that I was going to die and that it could happen at any moment. In the last five minutes of the lecture, when he was sure he had us staring aghast into the abyss, he offered conversion to a Calvinist sort of Christianity, based not on works but on grace. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief--just being at L'Abri showed to one and all that they were saved. Not me, though--I was caught up in the mythological speculations of Robert Graves's The White Goddess. And not my husband, either--that religion was the opiate of the masses was second nature for him. We left the next day, unconverted. But it took me a long time to forget that I could die at any moment.

Though I saw Francis Schaeffer and Edith Schaeffer from across the room, and spoke at length to both Debby and Udo Middelmann (a Schaeffer daughter and son-in-law), one person I did not meet was Frank Schaeffer. If I had, I might have recognized a kindred spirit.

Frank Schaeffer was about 20 or 21 at that point, married, living at the commune and painting pictures. He was in a lull between an antic and obstreperous boyhood and an anarchic, irreverent and confused adulthood. He has now written his memoir, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back. It offers considerable insight into several issues that have bedeviled American life in the past thirty years, and while it isn't scholarly, when taken in conjunction with his other works (notably the Calvin Becker Trilogy), it gives us not only a handle on the mess we are in but also quite a few laughs (if you can believe that).

Portofino, Saving Grandma and Zermatt were published between 1992 and 2003, and readers familiar with the trilogy know the outlines of Frank's story, and of his life. The youngest child and only son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, Frank grew up at L'Abri, reaching adolescence just as Francis Schaeffer was beginning to make a name for himself as a strict Calvinist theologian with pretensions to art and culture. The Schaeffers had lived as missionaries in Switzerland since the late 1940s, and in 1955 they established L'Abri, which was, at first, very strict and not very successful. Money was short; the Schaeffers' marriage was stormy. The family's two vacations per year (to Italy and a ski resort) were the only relief from everlasting praying, theologizing and fundraising. Frank required medical care because he had contracted polio at age 2, and he was also severely dyslexic. When he was in his early teens, it was discovered that after years of casual homeschooling, he could do little more than read. In the late '60s, Francis Schaeffer began having some success with slender analytic volumes published by InterVarsity Press, such as Escape From Reason (1968), and L'Abri became a resort for more intellectually self-conscious believers as well as for certain religious leaders, Billy Graham among them. Given its setting and the sense of luxury that even I noticed (tablecloths and fine china at every dinner), L'Abri was the perfect place to develop a high-class cult, and the Schaeffers were certainly not remiss in doing so. In fact, according to Frank, being a Schaeffer and growing up at L'Abri were torments of the highest order.

From the beginning, Francis and Edith were a mismatched pair. Edith was from evangelical aristocracy--her parents were missionaries to China, who raised her in luxury during her earliest years. The education and refinement of her father was her ideal, and one that Francis, a child of working-class Philadelphia, would never meet. In both the Calvin Becker Trilogy and Crazy for God, Edith is portrayed, plausibly, as a monster, to her husband and to her children. If a person can be instrinsically abusive without lifting a finger (Francis administered the beatings, at least in the novels), then Edith was: Not the least of her sins was that she relentlessly policed Frank's masturbatory practices while keeping him informed of all the anatomical changes his older sisters were undergoing as they grew up. She never forgot to remind him that the reason she couldn't stay home while Francis traveled about, lecturing, was "Dad's need for nightly sexual intercourse." In addition, Edith spoke so habitually in pure evangelical boilerplate ("the Things of The Lord," "the battle-in-the-heavenlies") that all family discourse became propaganda directed at the children and at outsiders (one of Edith's favorite pastimes was praying loudly and at length in front of strangers and, of course, witnessing whenever she got the chance).

Francis hid in his room, turning his favorite classical music records up to the highest volume, writing and, it appears, having doubts. At the height of L'Abri's cachet, full of anger and passions, he could go in the space of a minute or two from throwing a lamp at Edith or thrashing a child upstairs to giving a sermon on the mercy of Jesus downstairs. Frank asserts without qualification that his parents "were happiest when farthest away from their missionary work." The very Italian Renaissance paintings and sculptures that Francis denigrated (in comparison to Northern European Reformation works) in Escape From Reason were the ones, according to Frank, that he loved the most and could not stop visiting. In short, L'Abri and the Schaeffer family, according to Frank's testimony, seem to have constituted a true microcosm of established religion in action, with Edith always shilling for money and serving as a kind of public relations arm while Francis worked out the doctrine, whether he actually believed in it or not. Sure enough, when the three daughters married and the sons-in-law were enlisted as second-generation L'Abri promoters, heresy was discovered and punished--one of the sons-in-law, the kindest one with the most practical knowledge of how to run the place, appeared to be teaching not pure "inerrancy" of the Scriptures but something more metaphorical. He was stripped of his teaching privileges (he stayed around to keep things running, though). As the Schaeffers got more famous (and portrayed themselves more and more as an exemplary Christian family), Frank notes, their annual family reunions were beset by strife, with constant fights between the sons-in-law about fine points of doctrine.

And remember, all of this doctrine was about who is elect and who is not, because Francis Schaeffer adhered to strict Calvinist views and seems to have found himself in the classic Calvinist box--if people are all fallen sinners and God is truly omnipotent, then people can only be saved by the grace of God, who, in his omniscience, has to know before a person is even born whether he is saved or not. A person might be among the elect but is otherwise powerless to save himself. Everything about the Schaeffers, from their self-perception to their livelihood, depended upon their feeling themselves to be, and looking as though they were, among the elect. This Calvinist box is easy to understand, because in all of his writings about L'Abri, Frank portrays himself from his earliest years as an eager theologian, never hesitating to put his parents and sisters on the spot concerning inconsistencies of doctrine, not only because he sees the inconsistencies but also because he is a snot-nosed, ornery kid.

By the late '60s, according to Frank, L'Abri had loosened up. Edith enjoyed her newfound social status, and Francis sympathized with the American youth movement and countercultural search for meaning. Timothy Leary stopped by, and so did one of Joan Baez's best friends. Mick and Keith planned to come but never made it. Francis was in favor of the environmental movement, and L'Abri welcomed gays and unwed mothers without prejudice. While often cruel to one another, the Schaeffers seem to have been kind to outsiders. At the point when I visited my friend, L'Abri was more or less harmless--the L'Abri of that time was keen on cultural critique and addressing the issues raised by French existentialism. Frank and Francis together made a film titled How Should We Then Live?, which came out in 1976 and was originally meant to reinterpret Western culture from the Renaissance as a human-based philosophical failure that had given rise to twentieth-century feelings of meaninglessness and anomie.

But Frank, who was no slacker in the sex department (masturbation and lust are the major themes of the Calvin Becker Trilogy), had gotten his teenage girlfriend pregnant while she was visiting L'Abri and had to get married. The birth of their daughter was so dramatic to Frank that he was instantly compelled to try to outlaw abortion for everyone. Francis was reluctant because he saw abortion as a Catholic issue, but Frank persuaded him, and the two of them changed the final two sections of How Should We Then Live? to be about abortion. The film (and accompanying book) set up Francis and Edith as evangelical saints. Fundraising boomed. The Schaeffers were longtime friends of C. Everett Koop, the chief surgeon at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the author of The Right to Live: The Right to Die (1976); Koop and Frank pushed Francis to make a second film, more explicitly antiabortion, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, which appeared in 1978. (The novelist in me can't refrain from seeing these titles as reflecting Francis's own doubts and uneasiness.) At first the new film was a bust, and the evangelicals stayed away from it--Frank's biggest fan was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. According to Frank, it touched a popular chord, though, and when men like James Dobson and Jerry Falwell saw the crowds it was drawing, they recognized the possibilities. Frank, who had never lived in the United States and had only the haziest notion of American life, was soon on the road, sponsored by and empowering the new, powerful religious right of the 1980s, giving eloquent speeches on subjects he hardly knew anything about. He was in his early 30s and making a lot of money. He maintains in Crazy for God that Francis considered his new "cobelligerents" loonies but was soon fighting cancer and had neither the energy nor the ability to figure out a way to withdraw from them.

Frank Schaeffer quickly lost all respect for the religious leaders he was meeting, and for himself as the hard-driving, America-hating preacher's son that had become his public persona. As he points out, it's no good to be a member of the elect if the rest of the nation is doing just fine, so of course the religious right must root against America, must hope and pray for the End Times slaughter of most of their fellow citizens. The best title for a movie about the past twenty-five years in religious America would be Elmer Gantry Returns, and Frank is here to tell you its cast of holy rollers is worse than you think: "In private, they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell, to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met, to Billy Graham, a very weird man indeed who lived an oddly sheltered life in a celebrity/ministry cocoon, to Pat Robertson, who would have a hard time finding work in any job where hearing voices is not a requirement."

L'Abri, though intense and strange, had not prepared Frank for the open money-grubbing cynicism of Big Religion in America, for the outright contempt many of the big pastors felt toward their followers and the commercialization of everything Jesus. For Francis, possibly most shocking was the hatred felt by the Schaeffers' new allies toward everything he most loved. At one point, Pat Robertson bragged to Francis and Frank about "burning a reproduction of a nude by Modigliani that he used to have over his fireplace. He said that as soon as he got saved, he'd taken it down.... My father loved Modigliani." Schaeffer's chapters on the likes of Falwell and Dobson are eloquent but too short. Some of us would like more.

As any feminist might have informed the Schaeffers, the political is always personal, and vice versa. One lesson of all of Frank Schaeffer's work is that the inherent contradictions and terrors of Calvinist doctrine have been intolerable to the very family most famous in our day for spreading them. Another is that however the Schaeffers tried to mitigate those cruelties with personal kindness, their allies and associates have gone wholesale for the divisive, the inhumane and the mercenary. Francis Schaeffer's failure was that he didn't learn, from the very cultural history that he loved, the simple historical truth that tribalism and damnation are what organized religion does best.

But the real subject of Crazy for God is Frank--it is his memoir, after all. Frank has modified his position on abortion somewhat even as he has acted on his religious doubts and joined the Greek Orthodox Church, attracted, it seems, to the primacy of ritual over doctrine. Francis Schaeffer died in 1984, age 72. Edith is still alive, age 92. One of the last chilling things that Frank writes about his mother is that she is primarily in the care of his sister Debby, who is portrayed in the Calvin Becker Trilogy as the kindest of the sisters (and whom I remember also as being a remarkably generous and gentle person). Debby "struggles with a feeling of rage when she's with Mom." I can sympathize.

In 1973, when I was reading The White Goddess and my husband was reading The Making of the English Working Class, we recoiled from the cult of L'Abri, but we also laughed at it. Even while we were visiting, it felt as remote from modern life as Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1692. Little did we know.

Growing up Schaeffer

From World Magazine:

Crazy for God is a tell-all memoir
in the best and worst sense

By Warren Cole Smith

Frank Schaeffer has long been l'enfant terrible of the evangelical world.

The son of Francis Schaeffer, for years known as "Franky" Schaeffer, is—now that he's approaching 60—no longer l'enfant. But, as his new book Crazy for God makes clear, he remains terrible, in both the best and worst senses of that word. The 400-plus-page book is a memoir of growing up Schaeffer at L'Abri, the center founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer in Switzerland. The Schaeffers and L'Abri, French for "the shelter," have become a part of the legend of post-World War II evangelicalism. Theirs was a place where, according to that story, brilliant young seekers from around the globe could take time out from modernity to find Jesus at the feet of a goateed Francis Schaeffer. It was a Rivendell for hippies.

The Schaeffers themselves did not discourage these ideas. Francis took to wearing knickers when he traveled to England or the United States on speaking tours. Edith's books, including Tapestry and L'Abri, both recorded and perpetuated the story. And, to be sure, many hippies and budding intellectuals did find Jesus there.

Intellectuals such as Os Guinness, Harold O.J. Brown, and Hans Rookmaaker have said their relationship with the Schaeffers and L'Abri was seminal in their lives.
To his credit, Frank Schaeffer doesn't deny the life-changing influence of his parents. He just says it's not the whole story. He told WORLD, "My parents were human beings. Humans are not perfect. The Schaeffer household was one of flesh and blood. They were sinners like everyone else. But they worked through their doubts and struggles. They opened up their home to strangers. They treated everyone equally. I continue to think my dad was a heroic figure. In some ways, the struggles no one wants to know about made them all the more exemplary."

But Crazy for God emphasizes non-exemplary parts. Frank Schaeffer writes of being left virtually to raise himself at L'Abri. And for every person who found Jesus at L'Abri, there were others for whom the place was little more than a "crash pad." The sometimes beautiful, often confused young women who came to L'Abri became fair game for the teenage Franky, as this passage makes clear:

"I lost my virginity to Mandy, a beautiful twenty-year-old. . . . Our 'relationship' lasted for about three months. Kathy-the-virtuous [Frank's nanny] used to pound on my bedroom door when she knew we were having sex, trying to make me behave according to the principles L'Abri officially stood for. My parents, as usual, were nowhere in sight, either to reprimand me or to tell me to use condoms. How their failure to be effective parents squares with Kathy's worship of my mother and father as people oh-so-wise, I don't know."

This warts-and-all strategy includes such liberal use of profanity that Crazy for God can be described—be forewarned —as R-rated. Schaeffer also bites the hand that fed him during the years that he earned millions of dollars as a writer, speaker, and filmmaker in the evangelical subculture. He scorns James Dobson and particularly Pat Robertson, as in one passage about the 700 Club: "The floor director was . . . silently counting down on her fat fingers so Pat could wrap things up for the break. . . . Pat wrapped up the Word of Knowledge right on cue! Since a Word of Knowledge is as direct a message from God as you can get . . . it interested me to learn that God made sure his Word fit the time slot."

But these passages show more disdain for the actors than the script. Schaeffer—though he no longer describes himself as an evangelical—still embraces the Christian faith, is solidly pro-life, and does not approve of premarital sex, neglectful parents, or sham spiritual experiences.

In fact, for all its lurid details, Crazy for God is in many ways an affirmation of Francis and Edith Schaeffer's worldview, a conclusion Frank Schaeffer admitted in an interview with WORLD: "In many ways, theologically and philosophically, I still believe much of what I believed in those days, and what my dad believed. But I've thrown overboard the cultural baggage."

No golden age

WORLD asked Udo Middelmann, president of the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation (and the husband of Francis Schaeffer's daughter Deborah) about Frank Schaeffer's new book. Middelmann responded: "Both Francis and Edith Schaeffer would be appalled if anyone assumed that either their family or their work was in any way part of a golden age of perfection. Frank's statement that his parents 'were human beings. Humans are not perfect' is no different from Dr. Schaeffer's frequent warning against expecting a golden age anywhere, including the church or organizations such as L'Abri, this side of the return of Christ.

"After a careful reading of an advance copy of the book two months ago, Deborah and I were very impressed with the many places where Frank Schaeffer honors his parents and their life. Deborah's own memories of her childhood, written independently (and which Frank uses in full in the book), surprisingly do not differ that much from those he states as his own. We were very moved by this excruciatingly honest and often very funny memoir."

Flesh & blood

Religion: Schaeffer son puts away the airbrush

WORLD: You confess at the beginning of this book that it is a memoir. Given the inflammatory nature of much that is in the book, wouldn't you have been better served to do the research of a historian or biographer?

SCHAEFFER: To represent myself as an objective historian or biographer would have been false. In attempting to be honest, I thought it better to simply admit up front that these were my impressions, and let the reader take them for what they're worth. I didn't want to speak with an omniscient voice. That wouldn't be fair. And there is nothing in that book that I have any worries about as being not true, as in did not happen. Believe me, after 23 drafts of the manuscript, this is not just shooting from the hip.

WORLD: Your family, especially the relationship between your father and mother, has been depicted as the ideal evangelical family. That's not the picture you paint here.

SCHAEFFER: My mother and dad were opposite personalities. Mom was someone who tended to fight with my father through her children. That was not unique to Edith Schaeffer. But my mom and dad were humans. Within the household there was a rivalry. The Schaeffer household was one of flesh and blood.

WORLD: But why not let these family matters remain family matters?

SCHAEFFER: When you write a book like this, you have to choose between loyalty to the reader and the truth as you remember it, or to some sort of airbrushed propaganda. I chose loyalty to the reader and loyalty to the truth.

WORLD: You say that for years you wrote airbrushed propaganda for the evangelical market.

SCHAEFFER: Absolutely. With, by the way, the best of intentions. But that's what it was. I had a point of view and I would ignore things that didn't fit my point of view. That's the problem with those on both the left and the right. They self-censor, for reasons of survival. They choose not to write things that they know to be true but which might offend their target audience. I've tried to stop doing that. I'm not saying I always do that, that I've achieved some sort of impartiality. But I try to write as I see things and not as it will help a particular ministry, or my career, or will sell a book to the evangelical bookstore chain.

WORLD: Yet, underneath your disdain for what you believe is the artificiality of evangelicalism, you still hold many of the same beliefs. You're still a practicing Christian. You are still pro-life, though you're not politically active on that issue anymore. You've remained married to the same woman for almost 40 years now. You still have a high regard for authenticity and truth. You're a writer and painter. Some would say that the apple hasn't fallen that far from the tree.

SCHAEFFER: That would be a fair assessment. The difference is that I no longer say what I say or write what I write based on whether it will improve my chances of getting on Dobson's radio program.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Meadowland Magic: Bruce Springsteen still in top form

By David Hinkley
New York Daily News
Wednesday, October 10th 2007, 4:00 AM

On what was quite likely the last summery day of 2007, Bruce Springsteen came home to the Meadowlands to sing about girls in their summer clothes passing him by.

Do not feel sorry for Bruce, however. A packed house of 20,000 hometown fans at the Continental Arena made it clear that they will follow him anywhere always, especially if he brings along the E Street Band.

He's now one week into an E Street reunion tour supporting his new CD, "Magic," which he says was conceived as a rock 'n' roll record that would be fun to play on stage.

It does seem to be that, from the show-opening "Radio Nowhere" to the lilting, wistful "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," whose chorus is already a sing-along.

The new songs take about a third of the show, leaving room for more than a dozen tunes from his archives, and he pleased the people mightily last night by pulling out familiar anthems like "Darlington County" and a full-throttle "Badlands" alongside a hard-core-fan fave like "Thundercrack."

As usual, he discovered a semisleeper, this time a driving rendition of the "Nebraska" song "Reason to Believe."

What's still in progress is the hardest part of a tour like this, which is giving it a center and the musical flow Springsteen is always chasing. He wants his shows to say something, to combine the old and new in a way that conveys the eternal hope of youth, the acquired caution and wisdom of experience, the peril of the political times, the durability of faith, the communion of music and, oh, yeah, the pure fun of rock 'n' roll.

All those themes run through "Magic." They also run through songs from "She's the One" to "Devil's Arcade," and this could be a tour where Springsteen is rearranging the puzzle pieces until the end - because there's no single winning combination.

He introduces the new "Living in the Future" with a warning about attacks on the Bill of Rights and other disturbing developments "that aren't just un-American, they're anti-American." He follows it by reaching back three decades for "Promised Land," a counternote of hope.

He also fills the show with a lot of guitar-powered instrumental sections and finishes with the toe-tapping "American Land." If the girls in their summer clothes passed him by on their way home, it's a safe bet that at the very least, they winked.

A Meadowlands homecoming

Bruce Springsteen leads drummer Max Weinberg and the rest of the E Street Band in concert last night at the Meadowlands.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Where: Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street, New York. When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Oct. 18. How much: The shows are sold out, but additional tickets may become available prior to showtime. Call (201) 507-8900 or visit

by Jay Lustig, Newark Star-Ledger Staff
Wednesday October 10, 2007, 3:55 PM

"It's really not about magic," Bruce Springsteen said last night about the title track of his new album, "Magic." "It's about tricks."

More specifically, it's about the tricks that politicians play. It's also the lastest in a long line of Springsteen songs that are about getting beyond lies and deceptions, and connecting with something real.

"We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school," he sang during "No Surrender" at last night's show, which took place at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford.

"I wanna find one face that ain't looking through me," he howled during "Badlands," his voice tinged with desperation.

"Is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise?" he asked, playing a doubt-filled lover, in "Brilliant Disguise," while during his epic tale of yearning, "Born To Run," he roared, "I gotta find out how it feels/I want to know if love is wild, girl, I want to know if love is real."

Disgust with deception and the search for what's real are recurring themes on the "Magic" album, which provided eight of the 23 songs in yesterday's show.

New studio albums often become afterthoughts to rock artists of Springsteen's stature; at concerts, you'll hear a token new song or two, along with lots of older, more dependable material. Two of this year's biggest rock tours, by Van Halen and Genesis, have not included any new songs at all.

But on the first seven shows of his "Magic" tour, which also comes to Madison Square Garden for a two-night stand next week, Springsteen has played seven or eight new songs, every night. His fans apparently don't consider "Magic" to be an afterthought, either. Yesterday, it debuted at the No. 1 position on Billboard magazine's albums chart.

"Radio Nowhere," which has opened most of the shows on the tour, set the tone perfectly last night, with Springsteen lashing out at the droning airwaves, and expressing his desire to hear "a thousand guitars ... pounding drums .. a million different voices speaking in tongues." A line from the song, "Is there anybody alive out there?," became something of a mantra, repeated at various points throughout the show.

"Gypsy Biker" featured a passage where Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt traded blistering guitar solos. "Last To Die" and "Devil's Arcade" -- harrowing tales of war, and its consequences -- were sandwiched around "The Rising," late in the show, and helped bring the evening to its emotional peak.

"Livin' In the Future" was musically upbeat, with echoes of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," but its topical references inspired Springsteen to introduce it with a discourse about "illegal wiretapping," "the rolling back of cvil liberties," and other things that, in his words, "aren't just un-American, they're anti-American."

"We plan to do something about it right now," he said. "We plan to sing about it. It's a start."

Of course, the evening wasn't all about "Magic." Some energetic strumming by Springsteen and Van Zandt made "Dancing in the Dark" sound remarkably fresh, while a gritty new roadhouse blues arrangement helped breathe new life into "Reason To Believe."

"Candy's Room" and "She's the One" were fast and frenzied enough to satisfy even the most demanding Springsteen diehard, while the band showcased its looser, more playful side on songs like "Darlington County" and "Thundercrack."

It wasn't a particularly long show, clocking in just two hours and 10 minutes. But Springsteen shows usually grow in length over the course of a tour. And this one is just getting started.

"We will be back," Springsteen said, late in the show, in a way that implied he wasn't just talking about the second Continental Airlines Arena show, scheduled tonight. It's a safe bet that he and the E Street Band will return for more Meadowlands concerts on a future tour leg.

Remember, Springsteen's last two E Street tours (1999-2000 and 2002-2003) lasted for more than a year each, and included marathon Meadowlands stands. And Van Zandt recently told Rolling Stone that "this whole first 10 weeks (of touring) is (just) 'Hello, we have a new record out,'" and that the band would be "hitting everywhere starting in the spring for real."

Jay Lustig may be reached at or (973) 392-5850.

The setlist

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed the following songs at the Continental Airlines Arena last night:

"Radio Nowhere"
"No Surrender"
"Lonesome Day"
"Gypsy Biker"
"Reason to Believe"
"Candy's Room"
"She's the One"
"Livin' in the Future"
"The Promised Land"
"Darkness on the Edge of Town"
"Brilliant Disguise"
"Darlington County"
"Devil's Arcade"
"The Rising"
"Last to Die"
"Long Walk Home"

"Girls in Their Summer Clothes"
"Born to Run"
"Dancing in the Dark"
"American Land"

Springsteen shares a dose of protest with fans

Bergen County Record

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Bruce Springsteen's acolytes can recall a time when their particular politics didn't affect whether they enjoyed his shows.

Not anymore.

How can it not when, during the first of two sold-out nights at Continental Arena on Tuesday, he invoked a fictional "Gypsy Biker" killed in a war waged by "profiteers" and "speculators"? Or when he defiantly asked who'll be the "Last to Die" for a "mistake"?

Both were from his latest album, "Magic," whose folkish title song is an anti-Bush allegory about how those desperate to believe can be fooled by a cunning leader's sleight-of-hand.

"Trust none of what you hear and less of what you see," Springsteen sang to more than 20,000 strong, his strum-and-twang giving way to mournful wailing with his wife, Patti Scialfa.

This was no illusion, though.

Nuggets like "She's the One" and the pre-fame "Thundercrack" were certainly appealing -- magic in the night, if you will.

But Tuesday's two-hour convocation was steeped in '60s-era protest music. It was a political rally wrapped in power chords, coming as it did as the nation begins ramping up to the presidential primaries.

The masses bopped in time to the bouncy "Livin' in the Future," even as Springsteen sang of a failure that could well have been George Bush's reelection: "My faith's been torn asunder/ Tell me is that rollin' thunder/ Or just the sinking sound/ Of something righteous goin' under?"

"New Jersey! Is there anybody alive out there?" he shouted, launching the show with "Radio Nowhere," a curiously radio-friendly rant against a taste-challenged culture. Springsteen then leaped into the inspiring "No Surrender," coaxing sidekick Steve Van Zandt to the microphone and closing with the final chords of Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio."

Counting off the songs, Springsteen steered the black-clad E Streeters through a series of set pieces, driving them home at times with sonic guitar or wailing harmonica. He showed his harp-playing chops on a stomping, ZZ Top-styled "Reason to Believe," then sent the long-timers into a frenzy with the machine-gun spray of "Candy's Room."

Playing behind him for the first time since he stumped for John Kerry on the 2004 "Move On" tour, the band had its flaws, their collective rhythm tripping up at times. They were tightest on the newer material -- guitarist Nils Lofgren juggling scorching riffs with Van Zandt; Danny Federici and Roy Bittan twinkling through the lush orchestration; violinist Suzie Tyrell, bassist Gary W. Tallent, and Scialfa filling their roles; and the icons Van Zandt, Clarence Clemons and Max Weinberg forming the best supporting cast since that now-defunct cable show about the anxious mob boss from West Caldwell.

At 58, Bruce is no longer the hardest-working man in show business. He doesn't stalk the stage anymore and pretty much kept his feet planted during a "Dancing in the Dark" encore -- a modern-day version of Elvis Presley shot from the waist up. He nonetheless stirred the beer-swigging throng, who responded with their own wall of sound each time the pride of Freehold thrust his fist or fretboard into the air.

Springsteen teased the Johnny-come-latelys during the "Thundercrack" encore, saying "they were louder in Philly" the other night. Moments later, they sang along in full throat on the requisite houselights-up "Born to Run."

None of the tunes from "Magic" had the anthemic weight of "Born to Run" -- or that of "The Rising" or "Lonesome Day," which he sprinkled into the set. But the new numbers had the same edge, as well as a familiar sonic ring. And by delivering it so soberly, with nary a butt wiggle or deep-knee bend, Springsteen may have found a compromise between his quieter performances and the rock-and-roll traveling redemption shows that have now receded into history. Either that or his rheumatism was acting up.

For anyone who could hear him through the din, Springsteen delivered a state of our union underpinned by genuine love for country.

"My father said, 'Son, we're lucky in this town/ It's a beautiful place to be born,' " he sang in the shimmering "Long Walk Home." " 'It just wraps its arms around you/ Nobody crowds you, nobody goes it alone./ The flag flyin' over the courthouse/ Means certain things are set in stone./Who we are and what we'll do and what we won't.' "

The rally closed with the jig (or is it reel?) of "American Land," from the Seeger sessions, as Tyrell hit a jaunty stride and follow-the-bouncing ball lyrics flashed on the jumbo screens above the stage. It was at that point that Springsteen really got into the act, marching from one side of the stage to the other, waving his pick hand at the crowd.

Whether they'll vote with him or not, Springsteen pulled the neat trick of making his audience a community. Like one of his idols, the late Harry Chapin, he reminded everyone that no matter what their individual intelligence or background, no matter how dislocated and alienated they may feel -- from friends, loved ones, colleagues -- they could connect with one another, at least for a couple of hours.

What they did once they left the revival tent was up to them.

* * *

Set list:

1. Radio Nowhere
2. No Surrender
3. Lonesome Day
4. Gypsy Biker
5. Magic
6. Reason to Believe
7. Candy's Room
8. She's the One
9. Livin' in the Future
10. The Promised Land
11. Darkness on the Edge of Town
12. Brilliant Disguise
13. Darlington County
14. Devil's Arcade
15. The Rising
16. Last to Die
17. Long Walk Home
18. Badlands

First encore:

19. Girls in Their Summer Clothes
20. Thundercrack
21. Born to Run

Second encore:

22. Dancing in the Dark
23. American Land