REVIEWSrnNolite Confldere inrnPrincipibusrnby William ]. Watkins, Jr.rnThere’s More to Life Than Pohticsrnby William MurchisonrnDallas: Spence Publishing Company;rn279 pp., $22.95rnPolitics obsess Americans. Everythingrnfrom a child’s education tornmedical care for the aged is now a politicalrnquestion—indeed, a national politicalrnquestion. Once upon a time, familiesrnchose how to educate their childrenrnand care for elderly parents, but in modernrnAmerica this freedom is fast becomingrnpasse.rnTrapped in the ephemeral world ofrnthe political, we often need a reminderrnof the ethereal. Enter William Murchisonrnand his new book. There’s More tornLife Than Politics. In this medley ofrncolumns, Murchison delights and instinctsrnas he explores the vexatious issuesrnof our day. Describing himself as a “recoveringrnpolitical junkie,” Murchisonrnleads the reader in a discussion of thernlimits of politics.rnThough cheering the waning of totalitarianismrnabroad since the fall of thernBerlin Wall, Murchison laments thatrn”state power in our own country rocksrnand rattles forward like a freight tiain.”rnUnfortunately, Americans believe thernstate can do all. The recent debate overrnthe national Ponzi scheme of Social Securityrnis an excellent example. Ratherrnthan call for the abolition of the entirernsystem, the reformers and the progeny ofrnthe New Dealers both agreed that government-rnfinanced retirement should bernsaved. The political combatants merelyrndisagreed as to the means for preservingrnthe state’s role.rnNot one easily fooled, Murchison recognizesrnthat, as Americans have abandonedrnreligious teachings of the past, wernhave redirected our energies to the altarrnof the state. According to Murchison, arnChristian nation would view the birth ofrnJesus Christ asrna rebuke to the pretensions of allrnthose princes and princelings wernare bidden not to trust overmuch.rnWho are they, these petty potentatesrnwith large titles, against thernSon of God?rnNowadays, not only do we trust our electedrnpotentates to cure what ails us, but wernbelieve their sordid trailer-park moralsrncan be separated from the tasks of governance.rnBut the blame for the state of Americanrnreligiosity cannot be pinned solelyrnon the political creatures who prefer thernsofa and the Sunday morning talk showsrnto the pew and the sermon. Murchisonrncorrectly concludes that “religion is inrnflux, thanks to the official teachers of religion,rnmany of them questing spirits whorncan’t believe tiuths can be tine for morernthan twenty years at a stietch.” Hence,rnwe have such obscene spectacles as thernordination of homosexuals and the use ofrnthe pulpit as a glorified political soapbox.rnWere it not for the singing, Murchisonrnreminds us, modern worship servicesrncould easily be confused with a PlannedrnParenthood rally.rnSuch antics in the pulpit cause one tornask just who is in charge. Clearly, modemrnman prefers to think he, rather thanrnan omnipotent creator, is running thernshow. In light of scientific advances suchrnas cloning, the question becomes all thernmore pressing. Murchison remembers arntime when we knew our place in thernchain of being andrnour fathers found lessons in thernBible, and in history. Neither consolationrnappeals profoundly tornmoderns, who, with their computersrnand power plants and governmentrnagencies, know both morernand less than the old folks did.rnAnd so what is Murchison’s prescriptionrnfor our maladies? The author offersrnno grand plans or schemes. He simplyrnreminds us that there’s more to life thanrnpolitics. He causes us to recollect thatrnthe main business of mankind should bernconducted in the twin settings of familyrnand religion, where we “honor (or, alternatively,rnreject) historic teachings as tornwhat life is for, how a man or a womanrnshould live, what principles guide ourrnfootsteps, where our primary allegiancesrnlie.” As for the author, his allegiancesrnplainly lie with the angels, rather thanrnthe apes who reject the notions of limits.rnIn an age of planners and pedantry,rnMurchison’s gentle reminders are refreshingrnand highly recommended.rnWilliam ]. Watkins, jr., is a law studentrnat the University of South Carolina andrnan editor of the South Carolina LawrnReview.rnKreislerianarnby J.O.TaternFritz Kreisler: Love’s Sorrow,rnLove’s Joyrnby Amy BiancollirnPortland: Amadeus Press;rn453 pp., $34.95rnWalking out of Maxim Vengerov’srnrecent recital at Avery FisherrnHall, I thought of the intermission morernas a remission. At a bar in Penn Station arnfew minutes later, where I heard somernJunior Wells on the sound system, thernplaying (if not the music) was better thanrnanything that the violinist had given. Apparentiy,rnfor all of his posturing, Maximrnjust could not get the lead out of hisrnVengerov. Fritz Kreisler came to mind,rnas to many he often does. There arernquite a few people around who still rememberrnhim in performance over 50rnyears ago, and many more who knowrnhim from recordings made as long ago asrn1904.rnFor people like those and for others, Irnhope. Amy Biancolli’s new biography isrnjust the thing. Her rethinking ofrnKreisler’s career is the first extendedrntreatment it has received since LouisrnLochner’s Fritz Kreisler of 1950. Biancollirnhas not written a stiaightforward biographyrnlike Lochner’s, but rather an analyticalrnengagement with a man, arnpersonality, and a style. She was right torndo so, and right again to see Kreisler as arn”problem” to us, musically as well as culturally.rnFritz Kreisler (1875-1962) is a challengernbecause he represents the oldrnMARCH 1999/33rnrnrn