Five Best Monday Columns

Bill Keller on the Catholic Church, Timothy Noah on the new silent majority, Megan Greene on Greece, Jennifer Rubin on Mark Sanford, and John Harris on vegetarianism.

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Bill Keller in The New York Times on the Catholic Church It might feel strange to analyze the "profit margin" of a transnational "company" that trades in spiritual salvation, but Bill Keller thinks that the Catholic Church stands to benefit from reassessing its business strategy during this transitional moment. After consulting with some leading business strategists, Keller argues that one of the most important questions facing the Church now that Pope Benedict XVI is soon to step down is, "does the Vatican want to be Nokia or Apple? Nokia’s strategy is to sell everyone on the planet a $20 phone. Apple’s is to market a much pricier product to a more elite, high-income market. Does the Catholic Church change its standards to be more inclusive, or does it hold its dogmatic line and appeal to a smaller but loyal base? Or can it strike a balance?"

Timothy Noah in The New Republic on the new silent majority Are we witnessing a flip in the definition of "silent majority," a term used by President Nixon to embolden conservatives during the late '60s? Timothy Noah thinks so, arguing that — at least on the issue of gun control — liberals possess the most commonly held view, but have been silenced by more vocal gun-rights advocates. "The politically correct notion that only those with proper credentials can weigh in on this debate was always absurd, but is especially so now that a large majority of us don’t own firearms and don’t hunt," Noah writes. "By fetishizing a fading tradition, liberals have only made their arguments for increased gun control less likely to have much of an impact. A recognition of their — our — dominant position would be a better way to start the debate."

Megan Greene in Bloomberg View on Greece After three years of crushing austerity measures, the Greek government says it finally has a primary budget surplus. But rather than celebrating, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his New Democracy party members should be worrying about getting toppled the Syriza party, which has an increasingly popular platform of rejecting further austerity measures. "Of course, it is impossible to predict exactly how Greeks will respond to their success in eliminating the primary deficit," writes Megan Greene. "But if Greeks come to perceive that they are suffering purely for the benefit of creditors, they may refuse to play along any longer. That would be a disastrous choice, because structural reform of the Greek economy is crucial not just to the country’s short-term budgetary arithmetic but to its long-term growth prospects as well. And without public support, it will be impossible to implement such change, no matter what the intentions of the government and its international creditors may be."

Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post on Mark Sanford When we last heard from Mark Sanford, he was resigning from the South Carolina governorship after disappearing from work, shirking his official duties, and carrying on an extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman on the public dime. He's done some soul-searching since that scandal, coming to believe that, "God forgives people who are imperfect." He now wants the voters of South Carolina to follow God's lead and elect him as their Congressman. But Jennifer Rubin argues that forgiveness doesn't mean Sanford should be entrusted with public office again. "It is a measure how odd social conservatives have become that they would disown a candidate who favored gay marriage but rise to the defense of a home-wrecker and abuser of public funds," she writes. "And the idea that there is no one else is belied by the crowded field of fiscal conservatives, none of whom took public funds in office and lied about it."

John Harris in The Guardian on vegetarianism The presence of horsemeat (or perhaps donkeymeat) in the British food supply has left a gross taste in many meat-eaters' mouths. But the thought of a Seabiscuit sandwich isn't the most upsetting thing about meat to longtime vegetarian John Harris. He argues that the industrial food chain makes meat both environmentally unsustainable and ethically unpalatable. "The horsemeat scandal is probably the first big story that joins the two elements together," he writes. "The worldwide meat economy, then, is looking increasingly unaffordable – both financially and environmentally. And the upshot is obvious enough: if the world is going to eat ever-increasing quantities of meat, a lot of it will originate in places where rules are not respected, where animals are routinely brutalized and where what exactly is in those frozen blocks of mush is anyone's guess."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.