The following is from an article by Michael Peppard in the liberal Catholic journal Commonweal:
David Brooks's [June 14] column is vintage Brooks [offering] sweeping, general prescriptions for our societial ills. . . "religion" used to play a more "dominant role in public culture," and that such a role supported a "moral status system" that provided a check on the "worldly status system." Back in those days. . . the "culture was probably more dynamic" and -- it goes without saying -- better.. . . Along the way, [Brooks] quotes from the sourcebooks of Judeo-Christian culture (Hebrew Bible and New Testament), which is what he means by "religion.” . . .
But then there's this doozy of a blunder:
In Corinthians, Jesus tells the crowds, “Not many of you were wise by worldly standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. ..."Where to begin analyzing this unbelievable error?! Until proven otherwise, I'm going to go ahead and pronounce it the most ironic fact-checking oversight in the history of the esteemed New York Times.
To anyone formed in the Judeo-Christian heritage, the one so exalted by Brooks, it is self-evident that Jesus did not go to Greece or author 1 Corinthians. It's almost pre-rational: . . . Jesus barely left Galilee and did not author anything. . . during a piece lamenting the declining influence of religion, Brooks reveals his own stunning ignorance of . . . Judeo-Christian sources . . .
I have great respect for [fact-checkers] at the Times. . . But in this case, a group of fact-checkers -- multiple people -- read over this sentence, and not one of them stopped the error. What that reveals is profound: the staff at the Times is not as secular as we think they are. They are even more secular than we think they are.
To not know that Jesus did not speak to people in Greece would be like . . . charting Columbus's voyage on the Mayflower; assigning the wrong author to the Emancipation Proclamation; praising Malcolm X's "I Have a Dream" speech; recounting Kennedy's trip to China; or commemorating Bush's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" moment. All of those errors are unimaginable.
[As for] the fact-checkers, we find that [Brooks'] comical irony becomes a kind of tragic irony. The group of fact-checkers has embodied the very absence of Judeo-Christian culture bemoaned in the column itself.