Friday, September 29, 2006

National Geographic Reverts to Form

I used to love National Geographic. I'm a maps guy, a landscape guy, a people-from- different-cultures guy. I was always less interested in the exotic animals, but that was okay also. Exploring under the sea. Exploring the North Pole. Exploring caves. Microscopic organisms. Outer space. What'w not to like?

Gaia-worship, for one. I got tired of forests that were "like cathedrals." So, even though we have continued to receive the magazine, I have merely browsed most issues for a decade now. October 2006 is about "Places We Must Save." On the cover there are smaller article headlines: "America's Threatened Sanctuaries." "Paris: Space For The Soul." Nervousness on the part of the Assistant Village Idiot. But, sanctuary has a legitimate alternate meaning, related to safety, escape, asylum. And soul is pretty generic at this point, and the quasi-religious flavor of it is certainly not confined to National Geographic.

Table of Contents, no less. "Hallowed Ground." Meaning, um, parks. On to the article on page 42. First sentence includes "sanctified." I think sanctimonious might be closer. I'm done for now. Let's see what else is going on. The guy they interview is torqued off at the Bush Administration. What is it this time? Forget it. I don't think I mind that the Gospel of Gaia Lite has its own magazine. Why not? I think it that they don't know how religiously embedded they are in their views.

Actually, Gaia-worship isn't quite right. It's more of a pantheism. CS Lewis noted that historically, pantheism is the default religious position, the place that every culture goes when it's giving up its old beliefs. So why does that seem like such an advanced, enlightened view now?

Oh look, the Letters To The Editors has the comments on the soccer issue a few months ago. I like soccer. This should be mildly interesting.

I quote the letter of Steve Muench of Livingston, NJ in full.
I applaud your essays on the world's only true game. Yet you failed to examine the bigger picture of soccer's impact on sporting diplomacy. It was in 1999 that the United Nations recognized the power of soccer by locking arms with FIFA and subsequently dedicating the World Cup in Korea and Japan to children. That partnership has grown stronger ever since and reached a pinnacle in January this year when Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited FIFA's Zurich headquarters and signaled the UN's intent to strengthen a strategic partnership with the sporting world.

Well, golly. The UN locked arms with FIFA and, and dedicated the World Cup to children. Wow. I'll bet that really, like, helps. Especially those children in North Korea. What a relief it must have been to parents all over the world that someone was finally going to take notice. And to top it off, Kofi goes to the wilds of Switzerland and visited FIFA's headquarters. That is a pinnacle, eh? The UN, strengthening a strategic partnership with the sporting world. Just by visiting. I feel so much better.

No, not really. Right now I'm wishing I'd stopped to buy scotch on the way home.


Anonymous said...

Right now I'm wishing I'd stopped to buy scotch on the way home.

I notice you didn't say "A Scotch." So, the impression is that it will take more than one drink to get the taste of the pantheism out of the mouth so to speak. Me too, and I stopped subscribing to NG more than a decade ago, for some of the same reasons.

Anonymous said...

Your post is chock-full of stuff---all good. I could comment for a long time, but will spare you.

NG has gone the way of most hallowed institutions. Smithsonian like, it has crept leftward and pagan-ward so that now it is little more than a glossy monthly manifesto for pantheists. Where are all those pendulous breasts of Amazonian triabl women that so excited my pubescence?

Soccer is a silly game where men bounce things on their heads and refuse to use their hands. Once the rare goal is scored they then hug and pat each other on their fannies. In places like Argentina---where I lived for ten years---soccer is a replacement for God. It is a form of organized madness, like Latin politics are. It is all about the mass. A man chooses a team almost at birth and for the rest of his life he hates all other teams. It is tribal, vulgar and silly. Countries who worship soccer have no capacity upon the field of battle---the world's only game that matters.

Liberals never actually do anything---outside of betraying the country---but they do have an entire industry dedicated to feeling good about themselves. Witness all those buttons they wear proclaiming their most excellent positions. If FIFA really wanted to help children it would disband.

But then so would the UN.

Anonymous said...

It certainly seems that the more the species MIM (Modern Intelligent Man) distances himself from Christianity the more the substitutes need to grow in importance. Sports, Gaia, the trivial side of politics, celebrity worship - all are reflected in what we choose to spend our time on. Hey,I'd write more but the Angelina Jolie Worship Hour on cable is about to start...

Anonymous said...

I guess my tolerance of National Geographic is lower than yours; I dropped my subscription some time ago. Whoever runs the shop now uses the magazine as a forum for a wide variety of mystic beliefs -- or so it seems. There certainly is a strict belief in the phenomenon of "global warming," and of course, it's cause: the filthy human species.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

mike, I wonder if the British Empire went down as rugby and cricket were supplanted by football?

Anonymous said...

A while ago, Anthony Esolen in Touchstone called Gaia-worship "Atheism for Girls."

Woody said...

I dropped my subscription years ago but considered subscribing again. Thanks for saving me the money.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

National Geographic would still be great "desert island" reading. Once you were removed from the preaching having anything to do with you, the information would be great.
And the photos are still an important piece.

Smithsonian has it's own leftist lean, but it is much less pronounced.