Since 9/11, many have asked: Where are the moderate Muslims? Why don’t they stand
up and denounce those who pervert Islam to justify violence?
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf exemplifies the type of individual they should be embracing.
The man I heard speak at the Fourth Annual Bridges of Understanding Conference,
held at the Meridian Center in Washington in early December, bore no resemblance
to the stereotype that some have promulgated: that of a stealth Islamic supremacist
who seeks to build a “megamosque” to humiliate those who lost loved ones on 9/11.
Quite to the contrary, I found him to be polished, engaging, warmly humorous and
humble — in a recent interview, in fact, the Imam said that if 9/11 were to happen
again, he’d want to be the first to die.
You betcha I am talking privately to very senior Democrats about reaching out to
the great religions for an enlightened renewal of values. But let me correct Armstrong
Williams. America was founded on the idea of religious tolerance and diversity,
and Jesus taught again and again about the obligation of Christians to feed the
hungry, clothe the needy, treat the ill and help the hurting.
Jesus taught we should sell our possessions and give the proceeds to the poor, not
that Wall Street bonuses should be huge while we pass tax cuts for the rich while
we neglect hunger and homelessness in the land.
We're losing the Christian foundations of this country, and people of faith are
letting it happen. It's time for us to take a page from the Tea Party, but instead
of taking our government back, we need to take our culture back.
Don't misunderstand me: America is a diverse country, and that's one of our strengths.
I'm not denying that at all. However, America was founded on Christian principles;
it's part of our national identity. If you go to Egypt or Saudi Arabia, you understand
that the culture is based on Islamic principles, and you need to respect that as
a visitor. Likewise, when you go to Mexico, you know that the national language
is Spanish, and you need to speak it if you want to communicate. Those nations aren't
expected to undermine their own foundations just to accommodate other people, so
why are non-Christians demanding that of America? Why are we always accommodating?
Over the weekend, winter solstice made the big headline on Drudge, with a picture
of the moon, because for the first time in 456 years, more or less since the beginning
of Protestantism, a lunar eclipse falls on winter solstice. It would be pointless
to speculate on the meaning of this or if it has any meaning at all, except that
I was struck a few years ago when we here in New England who had been complaining
about The Curse for about 80 years had The Curse lifted when the Red Sox beat the
Yankees for the pennant during a lunar eclipse. At the end of the game I went outside
and sure enough, the shadow was passing across the moon. Eclipse at solstice, the
darkest night of the year, might likewise have particular, essential meaning.
Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and Jim DeMint (S.C.) owe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Christians throughout America a big apology for their hilarious attack using Jesus to justify obstructing the Senate. Reid won't get an apology. But he disposed of the issue quite well himself.
Let me raise a much larger issue here.
Democrats and progressives should reach out to all religious denominations in a dramatic effort to unite Americans to help the poor, as Jesus taught so often.
I will leave it to conservative Republicans like Kyl and DeMint to make Christmas a partisan issue, and to Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives to attack the pilgrims on Thanksgiving, accusing them of being socialist.
As Butch said to Sundance: Who are these guys?
I would hope that any Jewish studies course at university today might start with a viewing of the very great movie, “The Train,” with Burt Lancaster, about the heroic peasants of the French resistance offering up their lives to save the precious art of the Paris museums, a legacy from Rembrandt to Picasso, from falling into the hands of the Nazis. Lancaster hijacks a train and tricks the Germans to deliver the art unscathed to Free France. It should be immediately followed up by another movie, Alain Resnais’s “Night and Fog,” a gritty documentary about the deportation of Jews on trains to Hitler’s death camps. The question cannot help but arise from watching them save the precious art of Paris why they didn’t do the same for France’s Jews.
Art had become France’s religion. Possibly why it was so easy to conquer. But the two films together illustrate an elementary impulse about the cloak of cowardice that rewards substitute action for the true work that needs to be done — substitutes saving pictures for saving Jewish lives.
Expect pigs to fly, chairs to talk, or Sarah Palin to say something intelligent
— before you’d expect the pope to endorse the use of condoms.
But, believe it or not, that’s what just happened. In an interview for a German
journalist, the German Pope Benedict XVI said that it was OK for male
prostitutes to use condoms in order to help contain the spread of AIDS.
This is, of course, the same pope who just last year condemned the use of all
condoms — and, in fact, insisted they only helped spread the disease, and did
nothing to stop it.
Forgiveness is about letting go and moving on. It's the law of release. Whose
offense you fail to forgive, you carry the burden of for the rest of your life.
Obviously, from her recent outreach to Ms. Anita Hill, Ginni Thomas has thought
often about the offense between Hill and her husband. With an unwavering
loyalty to both her husband and the Christian faith, she followed the
admonishment of her creator to engage in a dialogue of reconciliation
toward releasing everyone from this burden.
It is clear to me that the right to free speech trumps
proper decorum, and in that vein,
I defend Pastor Phelps’s right to protest at military funerals. He is careful to follow all
the laws and guidelines for protesting
at a funeral.
However, the right to do something does not mean it is the right thing to do.
One day Pastor Phelps and his ilk are going to protest the wrong funeral. On
that day, a grieving family member is going to snap and a brawl will ensue.
It is not inconceivable that any form and vision of globalization — Marx’s, Hamilton’s,
the Democrats’, the Republicans’, Obama’s, Clinton’s, Bono’s, Lady Gaga’s, Osama
Bin Laden’s and the churches of Paul, John Paul and John, Paul, George and Ringo
— will be considered totalitarian in the millennium ahead. It has been my creeping
awareness in almost seven decades’ application to life as soldier, writer, farmer,
stone-wall builder, husband to one and father to four. Sometimes the priest, like
Bono, accompanies the conquistadors. Sometimes the conquistadors follow the priests.