While waiting for new prescriptions for eyeglasses (yes, that's prescriptions, plural) at the Wheaton Eye Clinic this morning, I browsed through a recent issue of Newsweek (Oct. 10) that featured the fall of Tom DeLay. A column in the same issue by Jonathan Alter made the astonishing claim that the U.S. House of Representatives has been more corrupt during the past ten years—under the sway of DeLay and his "radical" cohorts—than at any other time during the history of that venerable body.

I am shedding no tears over DeLay's troubles. It's long been clear that he's a master of dirty dealing who wraps himself in the mantle of piety and patriotism. But this is something new under the sun? Please. Alter's pontifications, in the warp six Krugman mode, would get him laughed out of his job if columnists were subject to any accountability beyond the capricious norms of the moment. (Think for a minute of the things a columnist Just Can't Say in October, 2005. Then compare with what Alter wrote—the sort of thing for which he may even get a raise.)

Many people are fed up with public rhetoric of the DeLay/Alter variety. (DeLay, by the way, having attended closely to Chuck Colson, likes to thump the pulpit in defense of "absolute truth.") One of those who have had enough is Harold Heie, now at Northwestern College in Iowa but still affiliated with the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College, where he is a senior fellow. Heie is a persuasive advocate of what he calls "respectful conversation": not bland, feel-good dialogue but the real thing, which will often entail strong disagreement and will always encourage forthright expression, undertaken with mutual respect.

Under Heie's direction, the CCS has sponsored a three-part ...

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