The Best Of The Dish This Weekend

Crimea Prepares For Referendum On Secession

I’m writing this looking at palm trees. It’s ten years since Aaron and I met and we’re taking some time in the sun by ourselves to celebrate. The Dish crew will take care of the joint while I’m away, as they take care of the joint while I’m not. You know what I most crave? Not having to have an opinion about the world every day.

I remember an enchanting dude I had a fling with in Miami Beach about twenty years ago. One morning, as we were rousing and I was drinking some coffee and reading the paper (yes, it was a paper back then), I asked him something about Clinton’s healthcare reform proposal. He looked at me non-plussed, as he might. “Oh,” he said matter-of-factly. “I don’t have an opinion about that.” There wasn’t a scintilla of apology or a smidgen of embarrassment. He just had opinions about more pressing personal matters. Like where to go for breakfast. No wonder I fell for him. For a few days.

This weekend, we featured some core faves of mine: the inexpressible beauty of Allegri’s Miserere, which I was first lucky enough to hear live in the chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford, on Ash Wednesday. You don’t expect to be shocked by choral music. But those high treble notes are almost erotically charged with the divine. Then we excerpted a passage from one of my beloved theologians, James Alison, whose writing about Jesus manages to cut so often to the core of the Christian revelation, and makes it shocking and new again.

Crimea, it helps to understand, has a deep role in the arrival of Orthodox Christianity in Russia, making it an almost sacred space, along with Ukraine, for the Russian nation, broadly understood. Today’s rigged referendum is just another example of a political event that cannot be understood without a grasp of religious history. Which is why the Dish weekends are not an alternative to our political debate; they’re a foundation of it.

More on enchantment, secularism and the debate over Charles Taylor here. And if you’ve never seen Catherine Tate’s classic sketch as a know-nothing translator, do yourselves a politically incorrect favor.

The most popular post of the weekend was The Smearing of Ryan As A Racist, followed by The Way We Live Now.

See you in about a week. Be good.

(Post photo: A girl holds a flag during a Pro Russian supporters rally in Lenin Square on March 15, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine. As the standoff between the Russian military and Ukrainian forces continues in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, world leaders are pushing for a diplomatic solution to the escalating situation. Crimean citizens will vote in a referendum tomorrow on whether to become part of the Russian federation. By Dan Kitwood/Getty Images. Thumbnail photo: Andrew Hart)