Brother Jim was a biker who’d done time. He was in charge of Savio cabin, which meant scaring the shit out of any Magone kids who tried to pick on Savio kids. There was a rumor he had a switchblade on him.

Brother Jim loved to talk about how Jesus wasn’t a pussy.

“You see the guy crucified up there?” he yelled. “You see him? Are his hands closed? NO! Is he making a fist? NO! What does that mean to you?”

We sat there, cowering.

“It means something to me.”

More cowering.

“It means he could have just gotten down off the cross anytime he liked, and come down and WASTED all those Roman gladiator motherfuckers. But he kept his hands OPEN! He let it go! For YOU! And you sit here and look at that dead guy up there and you don’t even notice!

Brother Jim was seriously cool.

Rob Sheffield, Love Is A Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time

I wonder if Brother Jim was a prototype for Mark Driscoll.

Resisting the tide

Daniel Silva’s latest Gabriel Allon thriller, Portrait of a Spy, dropped today. As always, Silva is tuned in to the real goings-on of the world, where his fiction tap-dances on the edge of:

Another article of faith lay in tatters that November—the belief that Europe could absorb an endless tide of Muslim immigrants from its former colonies while preserving its culture and basic way of life. What had started as a temporary program to relieve a postwar labor shortage had now permanently altered the face of an entire continent. Restive Muslim suburbs ringed nearly every city, and several countries appeared demographically fated to Muslim majorities before the end of the century. No one in a position of power had bothered to consult the native population of Europe before throwing open the doors, and now, after years of relative passivity, the natives were beginning to push back. Denmark had imposed draconian restrictions on immigrant marriages. France had banned the wearing of the full facial veil in public. And the Swiss, who barely tolerated one another, had decided they wanted to keep their tidy little cities and towns free of unsightly minarets. The leaders of Britain and Germany had declared multiculturalism, the virtual religion of post-Christian Europe, a dead letter. No longer would the majority bend to the will of the minority, they declared. Nor would it turn a blind eye to the extremism that flourished within its midst. Europe’s age-old contest with Islam, it seemed, had entered a new and potentially dangerous phase. There were many who feared it would be an uneven fight. One side was old, tired, and largely content with itself. The other could be driven into a murderous frenzy by a doodle in a Danish newspaper.

Nowhere were the problems facing Europe on clearer display than in Clichy-sous-Bois, the volatile Arab banlieue located just outside Paris. The flashpoint for the deadly riots that swept France in 2005, the suburb had one of the country’s highest unemployment rates, along with one of the highest rates of violent crime. So dangerous was Clichy-sous-Bois that even the French police refrained from entering its seething public housing estates…

Silva’s Gabriel Allon series is one of the best in the modern thriller class, and I encourage readers of the genre to check his work out.

These are big times. The expansion of freedom in the digital world will lead to the expansion of freedom in the real world.

The people of the United States, with its First Amendment, are leading the way in combining free speech and technology. Just as Western rock and roll helped bring down the Eastern Bloc in the latter half of the twentieth century, the Internet is going to provide a similar impetus to the people of the world to grasp the possibilities of freedom.

In the entire history of the world, these are the most exciting times to live in.

Andrew Breitbart, Righteous Indignation