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?


Where are the moderate Muslims?

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.


The shameless assault on Christianity by intolerance and greed

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.


The shameless assault on Christianity

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?


Winter light: The end of exile

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.


Harry Reid stands up for Christmas!

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?


Will Israel survive contemporary Christianity?

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.


Pope infallible on condoms

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.


Ginni Thomas and forgiveness

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.


The right to get beat down

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.