What's good for the Jews?

In this pre-Christmas season, when many Jews in the U.S. feel left out of all the goings-on, how exciting it must have been to attend the Republican Jewish Coalition conference held last week in Washington, D.C. Candidates for the 2012 election against President Obama appeared and promised Israel their enduring love and affection. One after the other (except Ron Paul, who did not attend), they groveled and out-promised each other just how much they adored Israel, way more than their competitors.

Before 360 assembled self-styled poobahs and big check writers, wearing “Obama, Oy Vey” buttons, the candidates all but promised to give Israel Egypt, let alone more of Palestine. Jon Huntsman told the crowd that his best friend in China was Israel's ambassador there. Mitt Romney said his first trip abroad as president would be to, guess where, Israel. How those Mormons love to travel and to proselytize.


Jimmy Carter’s twisted global caliphate

Will Jimmy Carter (and Hillary and Obama) conquer Jerusalem before Hamas? They are today teamed together with Hamas in their desire for a Palestinian state inside Israel. It is one of the most astonishing abuses of American power in the post-war world, possibly in the history of the world. The sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael team up against their cosmic father to conquer Jerusalem for themselves. In time, Muslims have attempted to conquer Jerusalem. Christians have as well. Never since the Second Temple have they united to do so together, until today.


Goodbye, Space Shuttle

“By returning and rest we shall be saved.”
— The Book of Common Prayer

Can’t speak for everyone in New England, but for me, there was a large gap in space/time — a period of wu chi like that well described by the master bard who was getting married at Gibraltar while in a parallel event his cosmic counterpart, Neil Armstrong, was playing golf on the moon; “no heaven ... no country ... no religion too” — a time between creations that started its long pause when Ted Williams left Boston in 1960 and finally ended when Tom Brady came to Boston in the year 2000. In between we, the people, left the earth for space.


Rick Perry and Ayn Rand versus Democrats and Jesus

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the latest flavor of the right-wing month, wants to talk about faith and values. Go ahead, make my day.

While Rick Perry savages aid to education and sells short the young people of Texas, has talked of Texas seceding from the union in his imitation of the segregationists of the 1850s, champions policies that will export more jobs to China and causes gargantuan budget deficits that would make George W. Bush proud, let’s talk some Bible.


Big-business religion

Corporations and parishioners are increasingly coming together to spread the word of God and make money. All across the country, churches — once intimate places of spiritual interconnectedness — have been replaced by stadiums of worship that utilize advanced technological innovations to awe, edify and rip off those in attendance.

The jig goes something like this: Corporations underwrite the construction of vast religious complexes that awe people into regular attendance. The preacher's image is projected onto a big screen. His calm baritone is beamed out by state-of-the-art speakers. From all sides, his voice fills the room. The seats shake as he gives expression to the word of God.


One burning question

Why the outrage in Afghanistan over one Florida pastor's burning of a copy of the Quran? Isn't it a form of idolatry in both Christian and Islamic faith to worship objects and symbols? What does it say about the state of faith when the medium corrupts the message?

Radical Islamic groups seem especially prone to exalting symbolism over other moral strictures — such as protecting the innocent and acting justly. Perversely, they seem to find it highly immoral for women to be seen uncovered in public — but not immoral to ruthlessly kill innocent men, women and children in brutal terror attacks.

What does it portend about America’s deepening commitments in the Middle East when it must deal with both partners and adversaries for whom death is preferable to a perceived dishonor?


Are Mormons the Aquarians?

A psychologist in Switzerland who treats people with visions of UFOs suggested once that these images might be understood as messages from the Unconscious: “eyes of God,” “eyes in the sky,” as angels were when the world awaited the birth of the Christ.

But today they anticipate a new age. As C.G. Jung put it in his first psychological study in 1958, UFO visions and cultural images are manifestations of psychic changes that appear at the end of one age and the beginning of another: “We are now nearing that great change which may be expected when the springpoint enters Aquarius.”

And so I was interested in the juxtaposition of two stories in the Sunday op-ed pages of The New York Times: one on alien life by Professor Ray Jayawardhana, to whom it “seems absurd, if not arrogant, to think that ours is the only life-bearing world in the galaxy,” and the other on Mormons by the Times's long-in-the-tooth columnist, Maureen Dowd.


‘Bless me, Father, for I have tweeted’

It’s amazing what we can do with our iPhones: make calls, return e-mails, schedule meetings, file notes, take photos, keep grocery lists, get wake-up calls, time a five-minute egg, check the weather, listen to music, watch a movie, get directions, play games, invest in stock.

But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Now, with the iPhone, you can even save your soul! Yes, the Catholic Church is out with a new iPhone app to help you confess your sins.


Barbaric ‘honor killings.’ Have we returned to the Dark Ages?

Americans have been found guilty of performing reprehensible acts throughout the nation’s history. The Salem Witch Trials are a case in point. Members of the Puritan community in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts were convicted and executed solely on the basis of the testimony of suspicious neighbors and the accusations of teenage girls. And yes, many of them were killed in horrific fashion.

The United States and the greater international community have, for the most part, come to a greater understanding of the value of human rights and the importance of protecting them. Much of this is based upon the individual’s conscience developing to a point where it is strong enough to stand up against the mores of society if it goes against one’s core values and beliefs which are rooted in doing what is best for society overall.


Jesus would be a liberal, right?

On Thursday night I appeared on “The Ed Schultz Show” on MSNBC, answering Newt Gingrich's latest attack on the jobless by suggesting Newt watch “It's a Wonderful Life” and reread the teachings of Jesus, which I offered to send him as my Christmas present.

President Obama is a man of quiet but deep Christian faith. Isn't it odd that every time the president quotes Scripture, he is met by angry rightists who seem to hate (hate is not too strong a word for some of them) that the president quotes the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus?

So let me put this question before the house today: Would Jesus be liberal today?